Sunday, December 31, 2006

December: Miscellaneous

The purpose of this Miscellaneous topic is to discuss any town related issues you feel are important. Please post any issues you wish to discuss in the comments section of this post. Thanks!

211 comments:

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Anonymous said...

New month and yet again we ask:

Will anyone be investigating the claim that Mr. Kaminer made threats against the Valhalla Superintendent?

It would also be interesting to see what Council Members, if any, authorized this individual to make such threats. Conversely, if this employee was operating on his own without any Council Member instructions, then such behavior should be harshly dealt with in the future and possibly subject that individual to an ethics investigation. I don’t think however that it is worth spending $20,000 to investigate.

Should the majority of the Town Board’s silence on this issue be viewed as the authorization for this behavior? If there are any board members that are appalled by this behavior, please speak up.

If however their silence is because this threat was authorized, how long before we see the “retribution” from members of the board towards the Valhalla School District / Mayfair Knollwood for having the “audacity” to dare speak in public?

Has Mr. Kaminer ever been authorized by the majority of the Town Board to make threats against the EDGEMONT CIVIC LEADERS?

Will the first Board Member therefore stand up and follow through on your aide’s threat? After you are men & women of your word. Or did you already forget this threat? No, I bet you will remember and indeed follow through on the threat. Let the countdown begin!

Alternatively, prove us wrong and please show us your integrity on this issue. Take a stand. I wouldn’t count on it though!

Do the honorable members of the Town Board want this to be their legacy? Conversely, do they intent this to be part of their campaign for the Supervisor seat? Watch and see.

Anonymous said...

Michael,

Using the alleged statements of Mr. Kaminer, who apparently did not show the required obseqous manner in dealing with the Valhalla representatives, to deflect attention from the legal/monetary situation will not work.

If the state and reputable legal council recommend that the Town require return of amounts previously provided to valhalla, that is not retaliation, as imply, it is merely the Town trying to chart a legal course.

Monty Hall wanna be said...

Lets make a deal - the town board (now busy with the dominatrix case) hires special counsel to investigate and report on both mr kaminer for his alleged valhalla infractions and mr feiner for his alleged violations of the town's code of ethics. The cost of the investigations should be borne by all of the members of the town board by deleting any 2007 budget line increase in pay as a penalty for their poor performance in the valhalla and library matters.

Anonymous said...

TOWN COUNCIL ADJUSTMENTS TO 2007 TENTATIVE BUDGET ...

Two surprisingly wise moves:

- No SAT camp and no business camp. Apparently the council realized that these are programs best placed in the school systems to fund and operate, if they so choose.

- No additional staff and no WIFI for the Rec. It might be "nice" but by no means necessary.

Anonymous said...

I challenge the Valhalla people to publicly state exactly what they claim Mr. Kaminer said -- or stop with the inuendo --

Anonymous said...

Dear "anonymous said" (3:00 pm)-

Then let's have it your way. Let's parse the issues.

We will leave the WESTHELP funding issue to be resolved through litigation if necessary.

Now that we have placed this aside, now let's address the other issue.

What Council Members, if any, authorized this individual to make such threats?

Anonymous said...

Dear "anonymous said" (3:29 PM) -

Are you proposing that the appropriate forum to investigate a Greenburgh employee’s inappropriate behavior is this blog?

Typically it’s the employer that does the investigation, unless the employee was operating under their direction. In those instances you can create some subterfuge by hiring some third party to investigate (and waste town resources) or you can make believe that it never happened.

Take your pick.

Rumor Has It said...

That certain high profile representatives of the "Valhalla Schools Committee" who also happen to be from the Mayfair-Knollwood Civic Association may have made false and misleading statements to Town Board members two months ago -- with the Valhalla superintendent in the room - that no WestHelp money ever went to the "Valhalla School Foundation." The foundation is a private entity accountable to no one, and it is illegal and unconstitutional for public money to be given as a gift to any private individual or association of private individuals. Even though it was illegal to do, Greenburgh's contract with Valhalla allowed money to flow to the foundation. Rumor has it the state comptroller's office warned Valhalla back in 2004 that doing this was illegal, and shouldn't be done. So when Valhalla asked the Town in October 2006 for permission to spend $429,000 in already disbursed WestHelp funds, Town Board members wanted assurance that no money ever went to the foundation -- they were told the foundation never got a penny. Turns out there may be cancelled checks that tell a very different story.

It seems there is much more about this whole sordid mess that we have yet to learn.

Anonymous said...

Michael,

If you are looking for support from the general population, tell us what you regard as "threatening". If not, give up on this. It will not dissuade me at least from demanding an explanation of where the money went, etc.

I would suggest the Superindent has much greater problems that what was said.

But no one wants to hear about these threats.

Anonymous said...

Michael,

If anyone wants the "threats" investigated, they should repeat what they claim was said.

That they dont -- speaks loud and clear -- stop with the attempt to make people look away from this arrangment.

Where is the DA? I want a criminal investigation of whomever spent money illegally.

Anonymous said...

Feiner has said that every penny has been accounted for. So lets see those cancelled checks.

Paul Feiner said...

Dear anonymous: Every penny of the WESTHELP funds has been accounted for. The only funds that have been distributed have been authorized by resolutions of the Greenburgh Town Board. Each of these resolutions were approved unanimously by all the members of the Town Council. All funds received from WESTHELP that have not been spent have been deposited in our bank account. You are entitled to look at our books. Call me at 993 1545 if you'd like to set up an appointment to take a a look at our books.

Rumor Has It said...

The millions of dollars that Greenburgh sent to the Valhalla School District has never been accounted for because the contract that Feiner "negotiated" and signed with Valhalla didn't give Greenburgh any right to demand any such accounting. Rumor has it that there are least three cancelled checks totalling more than $60,000 that went to the private foundation. If this turns out to be true, let's hope it gets publicly reported -- and quickly. Looks like there's a lot more to this tale than than we've been told.

Anonymous said...

Is the state looking at the whole money train -- from Greenburgh to Valhalla to the end of the chain? Who will do this? Or is no one entitled to know?

Anonymous said...

Change of topic! Snow Parking in Hartsdale ( I assume it's the same everywhere ).

Does it really make sense for there to be no parking at night for 4 months? It will snow enough for the streets to be plowed maybe 3 - 5 times this winter. Where I grew up, they just called a snow emergency and you moved your cars (and this was up north).

Plus, last year they put bags over the meters on East Hartsdale Ave. during the daytime, saying you can't park so they can clear the snow. Isn't night snow removal the entire point of no parking at night during the winter!?! That one really blew my mind...

Fed up said...

Two wrongs don't make a right.

1. It was wrong to make a grant to the Valhalla School District because it is against the law. You can argue whether the grant should have been made or not, but the law has to be followed.

2. It was wrong for Gil Kaminer to try to intimidate a Valhalla official. Those bloggers who try to dismiss this charge are off base.

The Town Board is right to wait for the State Comptroller's audit to see whether thay can pay the grant. But the Town Board will never call Kaminer to account, because he is their political lackey and hatchet man. He should be fired.

Anonymous said...

Will you give up on the Kaminer charges -- if you say exactly what you claim he said, we might listen.

If he said something like - you would be better off letting the council work on this rather than making a fuss at a public meeting -- some one take that as advice

BUT REST ASSURED, YOU WILL NOT DIVERT ATTENTION -- the money trail will be investigated. I hope the Valhalla thieves and Fiener face the music soon.

Fed up with innuendo said...

"Fed up" says it was wrong for this Kaminer guy to "try to intimidate a Valhalla official." Problem is - nobody's seen any evidence that Kaminer did any such thing. But "fed up" has no problem smearing the guy, and Feiner has no problem allowing these smears to appear on a website he uses town resources to promote.
Now I wonder whether "fed up" would find it any more wrong if it turns out the only "intimidation" was Feiner trying to intimidate members of the Town Council by threatening to call in an angry mob if they didn't go along with whatever the Valhalla School District was demanding. Rumor has it there's a few Feiner e-mails floating around out there in which Feiner does exactly that, including one where he tells the Town Council that if they go along with spending Feiner now wants for Mayfair Knollwood next year - and this is spending he himself failed to put in his original 2007 budget, Feiner says, "I will encourage residents not to attend the meeting on Dec. 4th." And another in which Feiner says, threateningly, "should I introduce a resolution and encourage people to attend the hearing next week -- or will this be done without a controversy?"

If government by threat and intimidation is how Feiner chooses to deal with his colleagues on the town board, it's not hard to see why Greenburgh is so dysfunctional and screwed up right now.

Fed up said...

The Valhalla official who reported what Kaminer said was quite explicit about what Kaminer said, and it was a bald effort to intimidate. It isn't something for the D.A., because it wasn't criminal. It was political and improper. It was therefore something for the Town Board to investigate, not anyone else. But the Town Bpoard never follows up on any criticism of its own actions, and also those of its political friendas and lackeys.

You say I should tell you exactly what Kaminer said. Look it up on the archived Town Board meeting. You say we should give you evidence. The statement by the school official is evidence. If the Town Board had any integrity or ethics they would have followed up. They didn't.

The money situation will sort itself out. The ethical morass of the Town Board is another matter, and there won't be any improvement as long as apologists like you dismiss their unethical actions.

Paul Feiner said...

Anonymous is referring to an e mail I sent to members of the Town Council around a week ago. Last December, 2005 the Town Board approved a resolution authorizing funding for police overtime to patrol the Mayfair Knollwood neighborhood. The reason: the county opened up a new shelter just across the border (at Grasslands)that house sex offenders. Every week I receive from the county a list of all the sex offenders who reside at the facility. These offenders include some very scary people (rapists, people who have attacked or attempted to kidnap small children 3 years old and younger). The neighbors who reside within walking distance of the new shelter feel safer with extra police. Originally, I anticipated that we would be using the WESTHELP funds we promised to the neighborhood. However, the Town Board does not want to dedicate the WESTHELP funds to this patrol. I conferred with the police chief. He indicated that this year we spent over $70,000 on police overtime patrolling the neighborhood- implementing the resolution the Town Board approved last year. We need to fund the police overtime in the 2007 budget if this police protection will continue.
I did not bully or threaten the Board. We are holding a public hearing on Monday at December 4th at 7:15 PM on the budget. I indicated to them that if they would agree to support the funding of the police overtime (which should be a no brainer) I will encourage people from Mayfair Knollwood not to attend the hearing. I want to cooperate with the Board -- there is no need for unnecessary conflict.On the other hand, if there is going to be a controversy over this expenditure, neighbors should be advised so they can attend the hearing if they wish.
My e mail was sent to members of the Town Council. I am very pleased that members of the council are reading this blog and benefitting from the input of citizens. They are free to comment as anonymous --just like everyone else --or they can sign their name to the blog if they are not embarrassed to have their name attached to their comments.

Anonymous said...

I looked on the archived meetings. All I heard was more acusations -- not what he allegedly said. The accusations range from:

threatening

imtimidating

rude

and now, improper

like maybe he didnt use good gramer or maybe you just didnt like what he said. oh get off it,


The money to private persons or foundations = illegal

Kaminer saying something you didnt like = grow up --

Fed Up with Valhalla said...

Ok to Fed Up -- if you know what the Valhalla people say Kaminer said, REPEAT IT OR GO AWAY

Fed up said...

I saw the meeting live on TV. I can't repeat the words, but I remember the context perfectly. The official -- a woman who is, I think, a school administrator, said that Kaminer warned her against making a fuss at the Town Board meeting. I won't go back to the archives, life is too short to subject myself to that experience. If you say that the woman wasn't explicit, then you are watching the Town Board meeting of another town.

I am not pushing for the Town Board to go after Kaminer. After all, his conduct is no worse than the Town Board members. It is something Greenburgh has to live with. What I find interesting, and offensive, is the habit of some people to excuse any kind of bad behavior because the person who engages in the bad behavior is on their side in the acrimony that passes for town board meetings.
I don't expect that to change, either on the Town Board or among these people.

Not so, Feiner said...

If the funding for police protection in that neighborhood was so important to you, Mr. Feiner, if it was a "no brainer" as you say, how come you didn't put it in your original 2007 budget? What with all the rapists you say are lurking about, this couldn't have been something you had inadvertently omitted, was it? What with all those sex offenders notices bombarding your computer, it didn't slip your mind, did it?
Or did you really think that, as you told the Journal News, you could get away with funding police protection for that neighborhood out of some money you'd been stashing away off-the-books?
And about all those rapists and other bad folks you say are lurking about over there in Mayfair Knollwood? Aren't they housed in a county shelter in the Town of Mount Pleasant? You have no problem telling Yonkers what it should do about Ridge Hill, why are you so shy about telling Mount Pleasant - or the county - to beef up protection on our border? Or is it true what you also say in your e-mail that based on the lack of any incidents, the danger isn't all that real and the budget allocation you're making such a stink over is really just for show and political PR?
Finally, where do you come off suggesting this blog is from some anonymous town council member? Get real. I'm a private citizen. I live in Hartsdale. I found your e-mails in my in box. You either inadvertently copied the public like you did the other day on the elist with that guy's job recommendation, or some folks at Town Hall thought the public ought to see what you're really up to behind the scenes over there.

Paul Feiner said...

I did not include the funds for the police overtime for a simple reason: I thought that the funds would come from the WESTHELP partnership funds which the Town Board approved unanimously. The funds were designated for this purpose: police overtime, community enhancements. None of the Town Board members had any problems with this concept when they approved the WESTHELP partnership. If the Town Council members don't want to use the WESTHELP funds for police overtime because they are concerned about possible legal issues, the funds can come from the town budget. I'm sure that almost everyone in the town would feel safer if they lived near a shelter housing sex offenders if they knew that the police were providing the neighborhood with additional police protection. There is no need to fight about this --there is no reason why this should be a controversy. Shouldn't our town government give every neighborhood that has legitimate concerns the attention the neighborhood deserves?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Fed Up: I don't think you're bein fair to Mr. Kaminer or to the town council members. I saw that meeting live on TV too and I didn't believe for one minute that Valhalla's school superintendent (that's who she said she was) was intimated or even threatened with intimidation. She was just looking to get a rise out of a large and unruly crowd. And the story I heard later was that she had a real chip on her shoulder after losing all credibility with several town board members when she was caught falsely representing that the Valhalla school district had to bear the cost of educating children from the WestHelp shelter, when it turns out their costs were all covered by the state. Mr. Fed Up, I'm sure you've heard these stories too, and if not, you should get out more and talk to people around town. And if this blogger before me is correct, this school official sat quietly while someone from Mayfair Knollwood falsely represented to the town board in that same meeting that no town funds went to Valhalla's private foundation. I understand there's a lady out there from Elmsford who tapes all these town board work sessions where these things were all supposedly said. I don't know if any of these things really matter, but it's nice to know, if this is ever pursued by anyone, that there's a tape of what this school official supposedly said. I'm sure the Valhalla folks think she's wonderful, but if what I heard is correct, she may not have done her cause a lot of good.

Fed Up with Valhalla said...

OK to Fedup, now we are getting closer,

the woman said Kaminer "warned her" by saying what -- increased public scrutiney would not help?

and now we have gone from intimintading and threatening to rude, impolite and bad behaivor

Anonymous said...

Mr. Feiner, I'm having a real hard time understanding your last blog entry. You say you didn't include the money needed for the police because you thought the funds would come from the "WestHelp partnership funds that the Town Board approved unanimously." Sir, I've been watching these town board meetings for many years. I don't remember any meeting where the Town Board ever approved WestHelp money for police protection for any neighborhood, much less Mayfair Knollwood. Can you please post copies of these board resolutions where you say you got the unanimous approval to do this? I keep a record of all the agendas, and all I saw was a resolution approving the Valhalla contract and a resolution approving the sublease with Westchester County. Some of my friends think you're making this up. Help me prove to them they are wrong. Please post copies of the resolution so we can see what it really says and who voted for it.

Fed up said...

If the Town Board's political aide actually, the political aide of the Town Board members not including Feiner)warns someone against making a fuss about an important matter, just before a vote on that matter, I would think of that as more than rude behavior, I would think of it as a message from the Town Board. And if someone engages in only rude behavior of this sort, I would think that the four Board members would do something about it.

Having read this blog I have seen insults and accusations against people who have simply disagreed and were not rude. You shouls consider what this animosity, this permanent stance of accusations and belittling those who have different views, has done to the town.

Kaminer will stay, rude, intimidating, or whatever, because he is the tool of the four Board members. I accept that and ordinarily wouldn't have bothered to make any comments. My real beef is with those, like you, who are so quick to criticize and threaten those who don't share your view and are so contemptuous about those who disagree. You excuse Kaminer because you think that the grants to Valhalla should not be paid. I also think that the grants to Valhalla should not be paid, but I don't excuse Kaaminer for his intimidation, as I see it, or rudeness, as you see it.

So enough of this. Fimd some other bit of rotten behavios to defend.

Anonymous said...

To Fed Up,

What you and Michael regards as rude, etc. others might reasonably interpret as Kaminer trying to explain options to the Valhalla representatives.

And it is interesting after others repeatedly ask for what exactly this intimindation was, that then it becomes less threats and more rude or political.

hal samis said...

I'm asking for a "time out" for a question.

I'm going to admit I have not been following this very closely, other than the blog flow, watching a little of the Town Board meeting, hearing a presentation by Mayfair/Knollwood at the CGCA meeting and Bob Bernstein's response.

But I have a question from what I'm reading here. Without going through the entire history and accusations and the legal aspects of whether it is or isn't...

If Greenburgh had agreed to give money to the Valhalla School District without guidelines or sanctions and, in general, Towns do not intercede or meddle in how School Districts spend their own money (which I believe is the angle the Greenburgh Library is exploiting when they submit their operating budget to the Town) hasn't the Town discharged its only responsibility re accounting for the money when it can prove, presumably by check receipt or transfer, that it conveyed the amount it was required to do by the agreement? Again, I'm not asking whether the agreement was legal or otherwise...I can wait for the comptroller. I just want to understand this one aspect because it is my assumption that once they gave Valhalla the money the Town discharged its only responsiblity and was no longer required or would even want to follow the money as spent by the School District.

Like a parent gives their child a weekly allowance. You are responsible for making this last. I hope you won't spend it all on candy...

If it was spent or not spent; if it was spent wisely or foolishly, aren't these issues the stuff that the inhabitants of the School District should purse with their School Board.

I'm not looking to be persuaded one way or the other regarding all of the other angles or aspects. Please clarify just this one part.

"Time Out" over, resume fighting.

fed up said...

If someone says to you "your money or else," someone, like you perhaps, might consider that as providing options.

When an male boss says to a female employee that a show of some affection would be nice, it might be providing options, but it is regarded as sexual harrassment.

When someone representing the Town Board effectively warns the Valhalla school superintendent against making a fuss about an important issue which was about to be hotly debated and about which there might be lawsuits, you can call it explaining options. The real world would understand that it is not an explanation of options(what options, by the way?)but a warning of likely consequences.

You would do better to stop rationalizing. Kaminer and the Board should learn from this, and not be told that everything was OK. They sure won't learn if you keep on explaining Kaminer's actions away.

I've said all I have to say on this.

Anonymous said...

Hal,

There are a variety of responses.

1. The money should not have been to Valhalla; it was illegal, it should all be repaid and no new amounts paid.

2. Notwithstanding that the arrangment was illegal, Valhalla depended on that money. If this is someones position, then what the money was used for is relevant.

3. And some peoples' position, including Feiner's and you Hal, his alter ego, take the position that we dont care if it legal or being used wisely -- just let them keep the money.

Paul Feiner said...

When the Town Board unanimously approved the WESTHELP partnership agreement we made a commitment to allocate $100,000 a year towards neighborhood benefits such as extra police protection. The funds have never been given to the neighborhood. Last year, when the county opened up its shelter at Grasslands (the shelter admits sexual offenders) residents of Mayfair Knollwood requested that the funds be used for extra police protection. In December of last year the Board approved a resolution directing the police chief to provide for police overtime to the neighborhood. Some of the members of the Board were not sure where the funds should come from (taxes or WESTHELP funds--they committed to the overtime but did not fund the overtime from a specific budget line item).The board made the commitment last year to the community to provide for the police protection. The police chief has been using overtime to pay police this past year for the extra neighborhood protection.Instead of using tax dollars to pay for the costs of the police overtime - I have always advocated using the WESTHELP partnership funds for police protection. Inasmuch as the Board does not want to use those funds in 2007- the only alternative is using tax dollars.
I continue to believe in the importance of keeping our commitment to a community. If elected officials don't keep our word to one community, what's to prevent us from not keeping our commitments to your neighborhood? Every municipality will always have to deal with controversies. If people trust the word of their elected officials it will be much easier to persuade people in the community to compromise and to work with their elected officials to solve important neighborhood problems.

Resident said...

Hal Samis didn't ask whether the gift to Valhalla was legal or illegal. He asked whether the town had any obligation to see how that money was spent, assuming that it was legal to begin with.

My recollection of the town board's meetings and what was said was that the gift had a condition that the spending by Valhalla required clearance by the town board. That can be checked.

I didn't ralize that Hal Samis was Paul Feiner's alter ego. If so, I'd love to see them switch places. I would feel more comfortable with Samis in Town Hall.

Anonymous said...

I dont care whether Hal Samis asked if the gift to Valhalla was legal or not -- that is the paramount question.

Yould prefer him to Feiner -- start his campaign -- I think the town can do better.

Smell the coffee Hal said...

Hal,you can read the agreement the town had with Valhalla on the valhallavoice.com website. One thing's for sure, you won't find it anywhere on the website of your alter ego, Mr. Open Government. No, the WestHelp agreement, probably the most controversial agreement in town history, won't be found on Greenburgh's website.
Now, when you find it on the valhallavoice website, you'll see that the grants were supposed to be for "enhanced educational opportunities" based on programs proposed to and approved by the Greenburgh Town Board. But the town never thought to put in a clause that allowed the town to determine where and how the money was actually being spent every year. So, unless the state comptroller can tell us, it's anybody's guess where the town's money actually went. The Journal News told us about cruises, trips to the opera, nights on the town, etc. Being Paul's bosom buddy, you understandably think that's perfectly okay, because it's not the town's prerogative to second guess how a school district spends its money. But here, unfortunately, the contract does spell out how the money is to be spent and if your pal Paul "forgot" to include a clause in the agreement that would allow the town to verify that the money was being spent in accordance with what the agreement says and what the town had approved, even he should be held accountable for that, don't ya think?
We're talking millions of dollars here,Hal, so even if the agreement were legal, which it isn't, the potential for abuse is enormous and it sure looks like the abuse was rampant.

Anonymous said...

Well we are now 36 comments past my initial posting, and not yet one call from the naysayers or the CIVIC LEADERS for an investigation by the majority of the Town Board of the threats. Doesn't that speak volumes?

I guess anything goes in dirty politics.

Do all of you condone this in your workplaces from your employees?

I was going to suggest that you all solve the dominatrix case too, but it's likely you will blame the Supervisor, forget what you said before and then say you need an outside investigator.

You are becoming parodies of yourselves

It's oblivious you have no ability or willingness to call for the Town Board to investigate this issue. Alternatively, if you are a Town Board member bloging anonymously, give us a secret signal, and I expect the parties involved will provide all the details necessary.

For the mean time, go forth and spread your half-truths and continue to avoid the facts because as you know, that’s exactly what we have all come to expect from you. You know, the old nothing up my sleeve gag!

My friends are right said...

Mr. Feiner, I'm disappointed in you. Earlier tonight I asked that you post a copy of the resolution you were relying on for the proposition that the Town Board unanimously approved using WestHelp money for police protection for the Mayfair Knollwood neighborhood. Some of my friends thought you were just making this up, but I wanted you to prove them wrong.
Instead of posting the resolution as I had asked, you responded by saying there was a resolution passed last December. But now you say it dealt generally with police protection for Mayfair Knollwood and didn't deal specifically with the WestHelp money at all. Whoa.
I guess, if you've got a spokesman, he'd be like that old Nixon guy, Ron Ziegler -- remember him? -- and he'd tell us your prior statement is "no longer operative."
By the way, I don't think your latest statement is "operative" either. I've got the agendas from last December and I don't see anything like what you say on there either.
I may not be as smart as you Mr. Feiner, but I wasn't born yesterday. And I'm beginning to see why these town council members we're starting to hear so much about are finding it so hard to work with you.

hal samis said...

Dear Smell the Coffee,

Tell everyone I have no interest in running for any elected office. In these blogs, don't you think I have given people enough reasons not to vote for me for anything?

However, so far you are the only one who has even attempted to answer my question.

I must repeat. This topic simply does not interest me. I have other fish to fry. I have spent three years on the Library and the expansion. I don't speak without having paid my dues. To earn the right to speak and to continue to speak takes up 95% of my Greenburgh venting time. I don't have any more time to become an expert on this WESTHELP topic and I am loathe to comment on things I don't know or understand. My only interest is in this one aspect because I see parallels that I may decide to use when I do speak on the Library 2007 budget Monday. Thus I am doing research and would like to hear from residents in response to my specific query. Is that simple enough? I am not shying away from a hot potato, I just don't have the time or background to get into the legalese. If all of you want to argue it fine, for me I'll wait for the State Comptroller.

The only other current topic of interest to me is the sought after Central Avenue moratorium which I participate in because I think I know a lot about it because I am in real estate/financing and thus don't have to study the issue much for the position I want to take. I don't discuss things I don't feel confident that I know about; so can all of you just accept that I don't want to get drawn into this topic.

Give me a break. I just want to know about whether the Town should be or should have been involved with how the money was spent by the School District. Again, I'm thinking this is similar to the Greenburgh Library which is not a Library Distict, claims not to be a Town department, yet the Town has not line item control over their budget which to me is similar to the Town not having any control over how Valhalla School District spends its money. Again this is not a issue for me.

Let me handle connecting the dots from Valhalla to the Library. I'm only asking if the Town should have been involved in either dictating, approving, or allowing the School District to spend the income (however it was derived).

And, was it a requirement for the Town to maintain its own set of records for how Valhalla spent the money they received from the agreement?

Likewise, when you talk about "how the Town's money was spent" I thought the Town was just the paymaster or disbursor or conduit for the money received from the County. How it was to be divided had already been agreed (please don't start another round of legal or illegal, don't you care? I'm being selfish; this information is only for the purpose mentioned). What I'm thinking is that the Library Bonds are being sold by the Town but once they're sold, who owns's or controls the money? The Town or the Library? The referendum allowed the bonds to be sold to build a non-specific library of a specific financed cost. But if the argument in Valhalla is that it is the Town's money (and the Town is thus responsible for how it is spent and all that this entails) if it stayed in Town hands for even an instant while in passage, then I may say Monday that the Library Bond proceeds fall under the Town's control and not the Library Board. Whether you or others agree with my Library stance or not, I'm just seeing two otherwise unrelated issues coming together over the "outrage" of how the Town did or didn't process the monetary proceeds.

Can anyone help me on these specific issues?

hal samis said...

Dear my friends are right,

Attention:
anecdotal information department

I went to Journalism School with Ron Ziegler's younger brother Mel.
Mel did grad school at Columbia during the protests and later went on to found the Banana Repubic which later was sold to the Gap.
Mel pioneered the lengthy, chatty catalogue copy (Banana started by selling travel related items and safari-styled clothing before it was sold) which today has been adopted by Trader Joe's in their catalogues and by me in my blogs.

Anonymous said...

Hal,

I think it is important where the money went.

We all now know it was illegal to pay the money -- dont say wait for report -- we all know can read the state constitiion. Because you are a Fiener supporter you ignore it -- but no one else does.

The Council tried to deal there best with Valhalla saying they had already included the funds in their budget. That is why whre the funds is so important. If they have been using the funds for cruises, overseas trips for politicos kids, and now apparently payments to the Valhalla School Foundation, many citizens and the Council will likely have less reason to try to act equitably.

If the Valhalla people had listened to the Council when they explained that they were trying there best to overlook the legal issue and deal with the equitable issue, they would understand this.

investigate feiner and kaminer now said...

dear michael:

3rd post from monty hall called for investigation of kaminer threats and feiner's conduct of taking $ from attorneys who represent developers with applications before the town board.

additional hearings should be held on the propriety of feiner taking contributions from the town's auditors.

Don't Drink the Kool Aid said...

Hal, you profess not to be all that interested in the WestHelp matter, but then you say, "I just thought the town was paymaster or disburser or conduit for the money received from the county." Ah, repeating the big lie. So where's your support for that? The money you're talking about - the $1.2 million a year for 10 years -is from a sublease that the town entered into with Westchester County back in 2001. When Paul's not leaking e-mails that he wants you got blog about, you might ask him for a copy. He signed it. You'll see there's not word one in there about the town acting as any kind of "paymaster, disburser or conduit" for anybody.
This is town money, pure and simple. And Feiner gave millions of it away illegally.
His career now in a tailspin, what with the Journal News stories and editorials, the state comptroller's investigation, the off-the-books accounting scandal,one of Feiner's spins on the Valhalla fiasco is to say the WestHelp money was never town money to begin with - that it was just a pass through.
But Hal, aren't you the guy who likes to say "saying so, doesn't make it so" (or is that some other town politico, I sometimes have trouble telling you guys apart).
So Hal, if you expect us to pay even the remotest attention to your "connecting the dots" for us on Valhalla and the library (which in the grand scheme of things sounds like an utterly ridiculous waste of your time), you might try challenging the assumption that everything your fine Feiner friend tells you must be so, because it just might not be.
I don't know whether it's the Kool Aid or the plutoniom, but what happened to the Hal Samis we used to know? The one that revealed the truth about Feiner's underinsured $9 million tree settlement? The one who blew the whistle on Feiner's conflict-ridden rush to purchase another building for the new town hall?

Anonymous said...

When will the library construction start? Should there be an investigation to determine what went wrong? Should Triton be fired? Will Town Council members speak out and admit that they have failed to provide oversight for the project?

hal samis said...

Dear Don't Drink the Kool Aid,

This evening we can discuss the rest but now quickly...

The Agreement (Town and County) only existed to allow the facility to remain and to pay off the "aggrieved" parties for tolerating it. Without the agreement there would be no issue, no shelter and no money. I'm not an attorney and from what I read many residents don't believe the agreement was legal while many do. However, most of them are anonymous so I'm not persuaded by their arguments. Apart from the blog, I do know Bob Bernstein believes it is illegal as do some others with names but I haven't read the files, the contract, the law (because it is not my issue) and I really wait to see what the Comptroller says and may then comment since you think I have lost my wa pr that is important that I comment on every issue. I didn't know that it was so important to hear from me. In the meanwhile, I really don't care. And, as issues raised in the past have demonstrated, nothing is a slam dunk or black and white, except, of course, the Library expansion.

But what does intrigue me is that given this agreement, legal or otherwise, (this is not an invitation for another chorus of whether or not) it apparently did name who was to get what and it is in these specific "wire" instructions or understanding that I conclude that the Town was the conduit/paymaster to dispense the funds. I do suspect that in a world of invoices and receipts, the Town is the legal entity that the County had to deal with (the agreement was between these "co-equals") and that the Town complied with the terms and dispensed checks accordingly. If the agreement is found to be illegal, then the fruit are also poisoned. And again, I await the ruling. I would suspect that if the Town had not complied with the terms by not forwarding the money to the destinations specified, then the Town would be in Civil Court as a Defendant in a contract dispute and responding to failure to abide by the terms. If such were the case, the validity of the underlying contract would no doubt be discussed and determined. And the underlying agreement was found illegal and thus not enforceable, it would lead to the issue of the Town accepting the payments of the County versus not returning them. And it is also possible that the County would end up with a free ride and Greenburgh remaining the shelter host for no compensation as I expect that at least, the County, acted in good faith.

Re the Library, thanks for your non-support.

I do smell the coffee said...

Hal, don’t you know?

No matter what the question is, the answers are always the same. Feiner is evil. Westhelp is a fraud. The villages are ripping us off. The auditors contributed to Feiner. And more of the same.

Is the new library a boondoggle? Answer, we want our money back from Valhalla.

Did the town board know about the phony accounting? Answer, the auditors contributed to Feiner.

Wasn’t the vote on the Westhelp grants unanimous? Answer, Feiner can’t be trusted, and besides you are a Feiner lover.

Has the town board failed to oversee the library board? Answer, the villages are taking advantage and have more votes.

Should the town board do something about Gil Kaminer intimidating the Valhalla school superintendant? Answer, the payment to Valhalla was illegal and Feiner is to blame.

So you see, it is no wonder that the town board gets away with giving in to every group that makes a noise, no matter what damage they do, because they are always excused and it is always that Feiner is evil, Westhelp is a fraud, the villages are ripping us off, the auditors contributed to Feiner, and more of the same. It is easy if Feiner is always wrong. Of course he isn’t always wrong, but this crazed bunch won’t accept that. He certainly wasn't wrong when he urged against the premature library referendum, and we will pay plenty for the town board's cave-in to the library board.

But Smell the Coffee did answer your question. He said that the grants were supposed to be for "enhanced educational opportunities" based on programs proposed to and approved by the Greenburgh Town Board. So let me play lawyer. If the school district has to get approval from the town board, then the town board has the right to see whether the school board did what was approved, and if they didn’t perhaps they have to return the money they got. This may be different from the library board if they have a different kind of contract.

Keep plugging.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: You claim that Feiner was wrong taking campaign contributions from Bennett Kielson. Have you objected to the campaign contributions other members of the Town Council received? Steve Bass accepted contributions from the Westchester Federal Credit Union prior to voting for the lease. He also accepted contributions from a town union whose contract was up for renewal. Francis Sheehan, Diana Juettner also accepted contributions from those who advocated or opposed legislation before the town. Every candidate for public office needs campaign contributions to run for office. There is a need for campaign finance reform laws at every level of government.

Anonymous said...

How come the Town Council never approved the tree law or a modified version of the tree law that the conservation advisory council has been advocating for years? Is it because some of the opponents of the proposed law have contributed money to the council members? If we talk about campaign finance reform it has to apply to everyone.

Hah said...

Campaign reform applying to everyone? Haven't you heard, there is one standard for the Supervisor and another standard for the Town Council.

Anonymous said...

Intentionally or not (it's hard to tell since Hal gets all his blog info from Feiner), Hal is mixing up the contract between the County and the town, done in 2002, which pays the town $1.2 million a year, for ten years but, contrary to what Hal says -- it does not "name who was to get what" -- it says nothing about what the town is to do with the money; and the contract between the town and the Valhalla School District, signed in March 2004, which gave the district free grants of up to $650,000 a year for "enhanced educational opportunities" that, prior to disbursement of funds, were supposed to be subject each year to town approval.
Hal, if you've got the time to read the collected works of Ayn Rand, and apparently you do, you should take the few minutes to read the contract between the county and the town. Nope, it's not on the town website, Mr. Open Government would never allow that, but you can find it, along with the Valhalla contract, on the valhallavoice website. Or better yet, ask brother Paul for a copy; he signed it. And by the way, until you came along, nobody, absolutely nobody, has suggested that the town's contract with the county is in any way illegal. Now that he's heard it from (or vice versa), perhaps Paul will make this his latest line of defense.

Regardless, for a guy who prides himself at great length on this site, and on just about every topic, as being precise, never ever wrong,and unlike the rest of us,always better informed than we could ever be, Hal is asking us to swallow a pretty big whopper. Yes Hal, you've lost your way big time.

Shame on Feiner said...

I was very displeased to see Feiner's supporters trying to justify Feiner's accepting campaign contributions from the town's outside auditor as just politics as usual. It isn't.

Auditors owe their audit clients a duty of professional independence. That duty gets compromised when the auditor makes political contributions to the head of the municipality being audited because it looks like they paid to get the business and would turn the other way in conducting the audit so as not to embarrass the politician they gave the money to.

Here, it turns out the auditor screwed up by wrongly certifying town financial statements that didn't account for millions of dollars in off-the-books town accounts all relating to WestHelp.

That's a major whoops and highlights how ethically challenged Feiner is for having allowed the campaign money ever to change hands. In plain English, the auditor should never have given Feiner the money and Feiner should never have solicited or accepted it.

It's just appalling for Feiner and his supporters to treat this kind of ethical lapse as something politicians in Greenburgh do all the time. Even worse, are all the trademark Feiner smears and innuendo that go with this political counterattack.

According to the online financial disclosure statements, the credit union gave Bass a one-time contribution of $100. During the WestHelp years, Feiner took thousands of dollars from the Bennett Kielsen audit firm, and millions of dollars in town funds went unreported on the town's financial statement.

Yeah, I think there's a difference.

Cut it out said...

It is certianly wrong for the auditors to have made a campaign contribution to Feiner (and by the way, did they also make contributions to the Council members, and was it really thousands of dollars?) and it was foolish for Feiner to accept contributions from the auditors. But tying that to the failure to properly account for the Westhelp funds is the kind of stretch that the band of Feiner haters always use.

The bad accounting needs to be tracked down. If Feiner approved it, he must be held accountable. if any Council member approved it, he or she must be held accountable. If the Town Attorney and/or the Town Comptroller approved it, they must be held accountable. The auditors definitely have to be held accountable.

We know that they all knew about it for more than a year. Nobody said or did anything until the Journal News wrote an article about it, and they probably wouldn't have done anything if there hadn't been an article.

So let's quit turning this into a Feiner-bashing frenzy and divert attention from the role of other responsible officials. Let's turn it into a serious investigation and hold those responsible who participated in the decision or condoned it having knowledge. Bashing Feiner is just one more example of the politicking that has made the Town Board into a laughing stock.

Anonymous said...

Feiner is getting the same kind of treatment Gingrich Republicans gave Bill Clinton. Try creating chaos. Undercut the chief elected official. Stop the government. Investigations.
The Feiner hater's have gone over the top.

Yeah, it was $1,000's said...

Dear Mr. Cut it out:

Feiner seems to have gotten $500 a year from Bennett Kielsen for as long as anyone can remember. It doesn't look like they gave to anyone else.

I must add that it's really too bad that pointing these facts out, because it reflects poorly on Feiner, gets dismissed by you and other politicos out there as "Feiner-bashing." If any elected official in any of Greenburgh's villages were to have done anything like this, I'm pretty sure they'd be run out on a rail real quick. The problem is that most folks in the villages don't seem to pay all that much attention to the town, and village elected officials, and town party leaders too, don't seem to think it is their responsibilty to speak out when these things happen. But it is.

And when private citizens raise these things, we get dismissed as Feiner-bashers or town council apologists, as if one goes hand-in-glove with the other. And now you, Mr. Cut It Out, you think that unless we make this about all the town board members, instead of just Feiner -- when it IS about Feiner --our concerns are about as worthy in your eyes as yesterday's news.

So you turn the other way, you don't speak out when you should, and you thrust your hands in the air in disgust. A lot of good you do.

I'm at least willing to give the town council members we elected a chance to get this right. Maybe you know better from past experience that they can't, or maybe you've got your own personal gripe with the town council that you're not sharing with us. (This wouldn't surprise me - earlier this year some jerk from the villages apparently lied to the town attorney and town council to protect Feiner about his getting access to some supposedly confidential Feiner e-mails, and I bet that guy's probably still holding a grudge about that).

But I and others aren't ready to give up on the town council just yet. They just have an awful lot of work cut out for them.

Anonymous said...

Friends of Bernstein--remember the contribution Bob Bernstein made to Sheehan/Bass/Juettner at the same time he was trying to persuade the Town Board to appeal the Taxter Ridge lawsuit? I recall Bernstein complaining after the Board voted to appeal the lawsuit (at the Board meeting) that Bass/Juettner/Sheehan asked for his help around election time and that he wasn't treated the way he should be treated.
Our election system sucks! Candidates need to raise funds to hold office unless they are rich.

cut it out said...

Dear Mr. yeah it was 1000's

I don't excuse Feiner and in my letter I didn't excuse him. If the Town Board members had no inkling about this I would be with you. But if they did know, I won't excuse them or cut them slack, and I think that you ought to be fair in your condemnation. We will know soon enough.

I don't have a personal gripe with the Town Board but I have seen enough to know that they dump on Feiner whether he deserves it or not. And every reasonable person knows that the Town Board has become an embarrassment.

It's the First Amendment, stupid said...

There was nothing wrong with Bernstein's political contributions. Unlike the developers who gave Feiner thousands of dollars while they had applications worth millions pending before the town, and unlike the auditor which gave Feiner thousands and got a lucrative town contract, Bernstein had no personal financial interest of his own in any matter he brought before the town.

His financial interest in Taxter Ridge was no different from that of any other taxpayer in unincorporated Greenburgh who was being asked to pay while village taxpayers were being let off the hook. Does that then mean while Taxter is pending that no one from unincorporated Greenburgh may contribute to local town board candidates? I didn't think so.

The election system doesn't suck. If anyone sucks, it's those elected local officials like Feiner who still don't get it. Maybe the new attorney general's Office of Public Integrity will teach him a lesson or two.

In the meantime, whether you agree with Bernstein or not, if more Greenburgh residents like Bernstein would give of their time and money to this town like he does, I think Greenburgh would be a whole lot better off. It's called exercising your First Amendment rights.

UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPER said...

Proposal for holiday peace: This is the holiday season. All of us are supposed to try to be nice to each other, to get along. My proposal is as follows: Between tonight (December 2nd) and January 1st (the end of the Christmas/Chanukah holiday season)there should be no name calling on the blog. Issues yes, nasty comments no.
Many of my neighbors are sick of the personal attacks that appear on the blog day after day. My guess is that people will stop reading the comments, which would be unfortunate.
The Supervisor has provided Greenburgh residents with an opportunity to say anything we want on his blog. THis is unique in government.
All I'm asking for is a short holiday cease fire.

Greenburgh Taxpayer said...

Dear UN,

By putting in a plug for Feiner, you have shown partiality. Shame on you. If you want peace, you have to be impartial.

But this is typical Feiner and Feiner supporters, show favortism, and then deride anyone else from stating their case.

united nations peacekeeper said...

I agree - no name calling - no names. Only issues. Till 1/1/07.
happy holidays.

Anonymous said...

Quoting from x635's interesting blog, regarding the new Home Depot on 9A ...

"And to those Greenburgh residents, the tax dollars from this could have been ours....but Paul Feiner and his adminsitration didn't want it in the town, so Home Depot moved it a few feet up, over the line into Mount Pleasant, but still on the Union Carbide property."

If this is true, then I'm disgusted that the town denied this additional tax revenue opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is true that the Town was against a Home Depot in that location. This brings an interesting point -- that we have to remember that development on the edge of the Town can be just as devasting over the town line.

Also to keep in mind -- there is no hardware store on central ave. I know the rents are expensive, but I would love if Midway tried to get an ace/true value store, even in a basement location

Anonymous said...

"we have to remember that development on the edge of the Town can be just as devasting over the town line."

What a true statement!

Now if we could only get the majority of the Town Board to understand that Andy Spano's Sex Offender housing at the Westchester Medical Center is "just as devasting over the town line."

hal samis said...

Dear anon @ 1:37 and 3:30,

Clearly you gave a lot of thought to forming your hypothesis but...perhaps you overlooked a few details.

How far into Greenburgh (in inches, feet, yards, miles) should the edge of Town include?

Now that you have defined the edge, should Greenburgh have special zoning laws for locations within this"edge"? Should we match the codes of our neighbors on the other side of the divide so that would-be tenants would choose Greenburgh?

What do you think the near-by residents (or even commercial tenants) would think about making these concessions to our codes so as to keep be competitive?

How about this as a guiding principal? We'll let prospective tenants write our laws: "If you don't change your laws to accommodate us, we're going next door."

Hey Edgemont, are you reading? What do you think about changing Greenburgh zoning to match or better Yonkers so that Yonkers won't get the tax benefits from stores, warehouses, manufacturing looking for locations.

I know we don't often agree, but perhaps you can set these idiots straight?

As for hardware, I believe you have mentioned some co-ops and franchises. So you have a chance. Now you can start an exciting new career in retail and make it more convenient to buy a bag of what used to be penny nails. Mum's the word that you're coming to town but hurry before Lowe's discovers lower Westchester.

And, don't let the fate of the hardware store in Hartsdale (now the health club) bother you? Your market research is surely more accurate but is there any chance you haven't been inside a chain "drugstore" in the last five years?

Thanks Hal Samis said...

Thanks Hal Samis. So much for x685, the latest to find that no matter what the problem, one can blame Feiner for it.

hal samis said...

Dear peacekeepers,

After all, what's a month of tolerating stupid resident jokes?
There are still 11 months left in the year but why stop with just the Yule season? There are other holidays that are also "good will" based?

I suggest you submit your complete calendar of which days it is not ok to point out the "failings" of others.

And don't forget to include Forrest Gumps's birthday.

Finally, in your seasonal call to reason, is this the one when the three wise men come to Greenburgh?

Anonymous said...

Hal,

The areas of Edgemont that border Yonkers are Central Ave (retail, with a better looking better maintained Central AVve) and residential single family (where the town has been "helping" edgemont by selling little slivers of land to bordering Yonkers homeowners so they can pay a teeny tinny bit of Greenburgh tax and get Edgemont schools.

but I doubt warehouses are coming.

hal samis said...

Dear anonymous (Edgemont?)
You are correct that warehouses and manufacturing are not coming to the "edge" of Edgemont. It was my fault for trying to be general and not writing a separate paragraph for every border of Greenburgh. I apoligize and will in the future write more specifically and cover every possibility and write even longer comments as a result.

Do you have any comments on the larger issue? Should the Town rezone the edges to be as competitive as the neighboring municipality.

Edgemont civic leaders have always said that what happens on Central Avenue is IMPORTANT because what happens there could easily happen in other parts of Town, i.e. on Tarrytown Road or Route 9. Perhaps these leaders were being lazy too by not citing every road or maybe their concern for the rest of Town is limited only to these two roads.

Anonymous said...

"residential single family (where the town has been "helping" edgemont by selling little slivers of land to bordering Yonkers homeowners so they can pay a teeny tinny bit of Greenburgh tax and get Edgemont schools."

That's intelligent business!

Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:46

I dont understand your comment

Anonymous said...

TO 12/04/2006 8:11 PM Anonymous
RE Anon at 5:46
I dont understand your comment

I was referring to the comment made by 12/03/2006 8:55 PM, Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

If the Town Board would say yes to the proposal to place a tennis bubble at the AF Veteran Town Park, our taxes would go down! How is that possible? The town would earn revenue each year. The private company would restore the courts to the condition tennis players expect (at their expense, not ours). I hope that the Town Board is not short sided and approves this agreement.

New leadership needed said...

I'd like to see the town board approve the tennis bubble too, but it won't happen as long as Feiner continues to support the wrongheaded view of that pro-village advocate who chaired Feiner's SCOBA committee that the town can never under any circumstances ever allow its parks, including its tennis courts, to be open town-wide, no matter how beneficial the idea may be to residents of the town as a whole, and no matter that except for the pools at Veteran Park, all town parks (including the tennis courts at Rumbrook and Yosemite) are already open town-wide anyway.

And as every tennis player at Veteran knows, the tennis courts at Veteran have already been open to village residents for the past several years. In fact, the town offers tennis memberships there to village residents and many of the kids in the town's tennis program there come from the village of Ardsley.

So, even if the tennis bubble proposal is clearly in the public interest of the residents of the entire town, which it is, as it stands now, no private vendor like Sporttime will spend the millions it has promised to rehabilitate the tennis courts at Veteran Park -if the town continues to agree with the villages in court that it cannot allow its recreational facilities to ever be used by residents of the town other than residents of the unincorporated area.

The bottom line is that as long as Feiner feels he needs to keep pandering to the villages to get re-elected, which he does, none of this will change, and that's such a shame. New town leadership is needed badly. Very badly.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with someone being a pro-village advocate? Bernstein is a pro-unincorporate area advocate, and an anti-village advocate. He is the one who keeps pushing and causing chaos.

You gotta be kidding said...

If anyone's causing chaos in Greenburgh, it's that pro-village Feiner appointee from Dobbs Ferry, the one who admitted lying earlier this year to the town attorney and town council about some e-mails Feiner had sent him. Talk about bearing a grudge...

Did you see him last night on Channel 76 at the town board meeting when he threw that temper tantrum? He was yelling, screaming and carrying on all because he didn't think the independent counsel that the town council was hiring would be independent enough to suit him. This guy was so angry, so nasty, so out of control and so incredibly disrespectful that Councilwoman Barnes had to call him out of order and ask that he be quiet.

It amazes me to think that Feiner takes legal advice from this guy. Village mayors and trustees don't act that way. They'd be embarrassed by that bad behavior.

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't that Rosenberg is pro-Village or that Bernstein is pro-unincorporated Greenburgh. The problems come from Feiner pandering to the most extreme elements of the pro-village group, such as Rosenberg, who advocate positions such as charges to the town outside of the village budgets which they know are not in accordance with state law.

The extreme positions of Rosenberg, and Mr. Feiners support of them, will ultimately cost the villages much more than a more reasonable position. Mr. Bernstein will keep suiing and will win (at least some, if not all).

At the end of the day, Mr. Feiner will retire and run off to some non-profit group. IMHO he will not be able to withstand the legal issues he has created. The village taxpayers will be left holding the bag.

Anonymous said...

When will the state report on the Valhalla situation be made public?

hal samis said...

That guy from Dobbs Ferry was out of order and I understand that he acknowledged it and apologized after the meeting.

But to raise a side issue (as is my right as a blogger) I wonder why under Roberts Rules of Order, which ostensibly is how the Town Board meetings are run, the appointed Parliamentarian, Tim Lewis who is seated on the Dais (the head of DPW, the head of the Parks Department, etc. are not) because he is the Parliamentarian and it is he who should step in and rule whether or not someone is out of order or whether the Rules of Order and the Rules of the Town Board are being followed. However, sadly he remains silent perhaps because he really doesn't undertand the Rules either. Often, the Town Board does not follow its own meeting rules (which they made a point of passing earlier this year) so it is often difficult for the Public to judge what is the night's operating procedure standard: that set by the example of the Town Board or that set by the audience. It is the Town Board (5) who are elected and paid to be there who should set the standard of behavior and, failing to do so, it should be no surprise when the Public follows their example. There was more than one apology due last night. And don't blame me; I was already home.

Apology, what apology said...

Dear Mr. Samis:

If you were home and therefore not present for Mr. Rosenberg's televised tirade, how do you "understand that he acknowledged it and apologized after the meeting?" Is that something your pal Paul told you?

Instead of attacking Tim Lewis and the town council members, it's funny that you don't even mention Mr. Feiner.

Mr. Feiner, of course, wields the gavel at these meetings and should have ruled Mr. Rosenberg out of order long before Ms. Barnes had to step in. How many times have we seen Mr. Feiner allow his supporters at town board meetings, just like you Mr. Samis, engage in nasty personal attacks on anyone who disagrees with Mr. Feiner, be they town council members, community volunteers, or just plain private citizens. And how many times has Mr. Feiner denied those private citizens who've been attacked the right even to respond?

Frankly, I can't tell if your defense of Mr. Rosenberg's boorish behavior last night was intended to be ironic, given your own boorish behavior on any number of nights (for which I don't believe you've ever apologized to anyone), or just tongue-in-cheek humor on your part.

Anonymous said...

Hey, you gotta be kiodding, you gotta be kidding. I watched the archive of last night's meeting and I think that as usual you go ballistic over Rosenberg without a good reason. What I heard was that he said that questions have to be asked of former comptrollers to see how the funny accounting got started, because he said that he didn't think that the comptrollers did it on their own, that someone probably told them what to do. Steve Bass then accused Rosenberg of wanting a witch hunt, and Rosenberg got mad at having his comment twisted into a bit of McCarthyism. Typically Bass makes a nasty comment and then objects when the person he has insulted doesn't like it.

Steve Bass was obviously trying to cover up. He doesn't want to find out how this got started because all he wants to do it blame Feiner. Maybe Feiner is guilty, but maybe the Town Board is guilty. Or somebody else. That is what we want to know, and Bass and Francis Sheehan are trying to prevent it and make sure it all points to Feiner.

In that lunatic asylum that is our Town Board meeting who can blame anybody for getting angry.

Anonymous said...

Every member of the Town Board votes on everything--the Town Council does not have the right to exclude the Town Supervisor as a client of a law firm that is being hired to represent the Town Council. If the council is interested in obtaining a fair and impartial investigation of accounting they have to agree to accept the same responsibility as the supervisor since they also are responsible for the budget. Just yesterday the council members sent out an e list advisory complimenting themselves for changes in the supervisors proposed budget. They can't have it all ways.

About last night said...

The only person in Greenburgh who wouldn't understand how really awful Rosenberg behaved last night is Rosenberg himself. He doesn't seem to understand that once someone starts screaming and yelling like that it really doesn't matter what they have to say, most of us tune them out, and, sorry Mr. Samis, Rosenberg sounded so angry that I don't think for a minute that he acknowledged his bad behavior and apologized to anyone.

To put what he did in context, Rosenberg blew his gasket during the public comment period, it was nearly midnight, and people who had been waiting all night to speak had to wait several minutes longer for him to get this uncalled for tantrum out of his system. I can't imagine he apologized to any of them.

Rosenberg likes to say the town board is an embarrassment to all of Greenburgh. Well last night Rosenberg embarrassed himself to all of Greenburgh.

Stop obstructing the investigation said...

Feiner's tirade about the town council's decision to hire independent counsel to investigate how the town came to keep millions of the WestHelp money "off the books" is so completely unnecessary.

As Edgemont lawyer Mike Sigal explained so patiently, after the ugly outbursts from Feiner and his ally Rosenberg, there is nothing wrong in having the town council hire its own independent counsel, no judgments have been made about anyone, there are no limitations on current and former town board members and staff the independent counsel may interview, the report will be made public, and Feiner and his own counsel will be given an opportunity to comment on the report prior to its release.

Sounds to me like the town council is proceeding in as prudent a manner as it can, and sad to say, Feiner's antics last night look more like an effort to impede that investigation.

Anonymous said...

to anon at 11:45

There are major, major differences between the council and Feiner.

Feiner was responsible for obtaining the "legal opinion", not the council. He was the point man.

But it will be sorted out.

Anonymous said...

Wrong! The entire Town Board and Supervisor Feiner have the same access to the Town Attorney. The Town Attorney works for the entire Board. The Town Attorney participates in all Town Board meetings. Feiner and the Town Council members are equally responsible for legal decisions made in this town.

Full Investigation said...

So now the Feiner haters have a new punching bag named Rosenberg.

I want a full investigation for how the Westhelp financial scandal began and who is responsible. After reading some of the blogs I watched the meeting. It looks like the four Board members are trying to control and limit the investigation. Rosenberg explained what is necessary to make it a full and fair investigation. Then Bass tried to make Rosenberg's statement seem as though he was asking for a witch hunt and Rosenberg wouldn't let him get away with it. Bass tried to stop him and Rosenberg argued with him. Rosenberg has nothing to apologize for. Bass should apologize for manipulating the investigation. An Edgemont lawyer, Michael Siegel, also spoke. He also said that talk of a witch hunt was wrong and he agreed with almost everything Rosenberg had said. Then Ella Preiser, who is not a village advocate, also said that she agreed with Rosenberg.

You should concentrate on pushing the Town Board to have a full and honest investigation and quit diverting attention by beating up on the guy who pointed out to them how to go about doing it.

Want an explanation said...

Full investigation, how should the investigation be done, and what is wrong with the way the Town Council is doing it.

Greenburgh Taxpayer said...

Feiner is the CFO.

If funds are not accurately reported, how can it not be his fault? This was not the result of an underling hiding funds.

I want:

1. The Town to inform the State Comptrollers office they want the state report made public ASAP. If there are open or disputed points, they should be noted.

2. If the State report does not clearly indicate what should be note, including but not limiting, what the Town should do re ALL PRIOR monies paid to Valhalla, the Fire District and any other parties, counsel must be obtained to provide advice on this.


also -- Town Attorney Lewis, as Parlimaterian, is not supposed to maintain order. He is there to provide advise. Feiner had better grow up and start acting like an adult and maintain order. He would do well to remember that the telecasts and archived webs of the meetings will not be an endoresment of his abilities or fairness.

Anonymous said...

I admit I live in the corporate/for profit world, not the government world.

But in this world, it would not be unusual for the "outside" directors, or the independent directors (either group being the directos who are not also employees, and do not have the day to day responsibility for running the corporation) to engage outside counsel reporting to them to sort out alleged improprieties.

Anonymous said...

Todays Journal News announced that Empire, the largest insurer in NY, may cancel contracts with the following hospitals. do the have one with CHDF --

"Without a contract, Empire patients would have to pay out of their own pockets to use White Plains Hospital Center, Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, Phelps Memorial Hospital Center in Sleepy Hollow and Lawrence Hospital Center in Bronxville."

full investigation said...

You want an explanation, here it is.

First find out who decided that the Westhelp money should be kept separate from the town’s accounts. To do that you have to go back to the person who was comptroller at the time and ask some questions. Somebody told the comptroller to do it this way.

Second, check out if the auditors hid anything.

Third, find out why the Town Board didn’t do anything until the newspaper broke the story. Were any of them covering themselves up.

Fourth, quit playing politics by controlling the investigation. Hire an independent counsel who reports to the public, not just to four Board members. The four have no credibility because all they want is to fight with the Supervisor. It’s a cop-out to say that because the law makes the Supervisor the chief financial officer he is supposed to know anything about accounting and is responsible for the financial books. They all have responsibility for the budget and they all knew about the phony bookkeeping. The four should stop posturing. This is too important for the usual politics. Maybe this should be first instead of fourth.

Fair and Unbiased Investigation Wanted said...

to full investigation

you are scoping this out with your bias showing.

Did someone tell the controller how to account for the funds?

WHAT ABOUT DID THE CFO KNOWINGLY SIGN OFF ON THE ACCOUTING/

Oh, I guess you dont care, or are too busy protecting our CFO and Supervisor

Anonymous said...

If the Town Board/Council conducts an investigation they must not interfere with the investigation. By excluding the supervisor as a client they are creating the impression that they are hoping to interfere in the review process. They want the law firm they hire and that they are paying to find that others were wrong - not them. Does anyone believe that the firm they hire and pay will blame the 4 council members who are paying their salaries?

Anonymous said...

The Town Council wants a review of book-keeping/accounting practices. Fine.
Everyone who had anything to do with the practices (supervisor/town council/comptroller) should be removed from the process. The members of the Town Council could be potential targets of the investigation. They should not hire the law firm. The law firm should not report to them.

full investigation said...

The misnamed "fair and unbiased investigation wanted" writer has nothing but bias. He has already decided that the Superviser is guilty before there is an investigation. Convict him first and try him later.

Unlike this guy, I have no bias. I am excusing nobody and I am not blaming anybody. I want a full and independent investigation, let the chips fall where they may, be it on the Supervisor, the Board, the comptroller, the auditor, or whoever.

There is plenty of room for politics in this town, but not for this. You ought to stop turning this into a lynch mob mentality. Insults may make you feel good, but we need real answers.

Anonymous said...

ANONYMOUS 9:56 IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. THE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL SHOULD NOT BE SELECTED BY THE TOWN COUNCIL, THE TOWN BOARD, THE SUPERVISOR OR ANY OF THEIR POLITICAL FRIENDS. THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY. MAYBE THE STATE COMPTROLLER CAN BE ASKED TO RECOMMEND SOME LAW FIRMS AND THE TOWN BAORD MUST CHOOSE AMONG THEM. MAYBE OTHERS HAVE BETTER IDEAS. BUT I AM GETTING SICK OF THE POLITICAL WAY THIS IS BEING DONE BY OUR SO-CALLED ELECTED OFFICIALS.

Enough with Rosenberg said...

Once one gets past all his ranting, it becomes clear that the only investigation Rosenberg wants is an investigation which will prove the specious claim he keeps making that his SCOBA report unearthed the WestHelp financial scandal a year before it was publicly reported, and that the Town Board ignored what he had to say.

The problem is that SCOBA didn't say what Rosenberg says it says. All Rosenberg cared about in SCOBA was getting the WestHelp money moved from the B budget to the A budget and getting the rent income upped in the budget from $372,000 to $1.2 million, all so that the villages could reap a windfall.

Rosenberg knew money was being kept off the books and knew or should have known that the town's certified financial statements were wrong, but since pointing that out (and thereby embarrassing Feiner, the guy who appointed hiim) didn't fit within his pro-village agenda, he didn't so much as utter a word about that.

Of course, the independent counsel should look into these Rosenberg claims and, if they are valid, she should say so, and if not, she should say otherwise. But Rosenberg has no right to tell the town council how the independent counsel's investigation should be conducted.

Rosenberg also shouldn't take much comfort in what Mr. Sigal and Ms. Preiser said about him. They were being charitable not because Rosenberg was right, but because it isn't easy having to watch a grown man, even someone with whom they disagree, go so completely to pieces on live TV.

Anonymous said...

Some people just won't let the facts speak for themselves. Now Mr. "enough with Rosenberg" describes the opposite of what took place.

He says that Rosenberg didn't say anything about the money being kept off the books? That is nonsense. Rosenberg read the SCOBA report that said exactly that the revenues and expenses were not being reported. He also read from a letter he wrote to the Board last year in which he said that funds were being kept in an unidentified account. Was he also expected to raid the comptroller's office?

And he says that Mike Sigal and Ella Presier were being charitable when they agreed with Rosenberg. How nutty can he get? Mike Sigal went into detail about why Rosenberg was right. Ella Preiser doesn't hesitate to criticise people when she thinks they deserve it. In fact, she said she agreed with Rosenberg and commented on the fact that he was angry.

No. mr. enough with rosenberg ought to stop his effort to protect a town council which is manipulating the process. The bloggers who are critical of the town council for the way they have politicized this thing are right.

Anonymous said...

Why cant we at a first step have the state report, even if labeled "draft" released?

Can we bifurcate the blame assesment process from the correction process -- including pressing demands for return of money.

Anonymous said...

A bunch of residents are attacking the messenger because they want to hide the message.

The Town Council is hiding behind a manipulated investigation. That is what it is about. It isn't about etiquette.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Feiner, as supervisor and CFO, can not be part of the investigation.

1. If the state can fully resolve this matter, that would be best. But it must be complete.

2. If not, then the council, sans Feiner, must go forward.

Pot calling kettle said...

The town council hasn't politicized this process - Rosenberg and Feiner have - but it doesn't matter. No one is suggesting that the independent counsel that's been selected is anyone other than a woman of upstanding legal and moral integrity with absolutely no ties, politically or otherwise, to anyone in Greenburgh. She's a highly accomplish lawyer, a Pace graduate, who came recommended by the dean of Pace Law School.

Rosenberg and Feiner both know this to be the case, yet they blather on about how unfair and "politicized" the process will be.

Rosenberg needs to take a powder for now. As for Feiner, he can get his own lawyer if he truly thinks this impeccably credentialed independent lawyer will risk her reputation by unfairly maligning him, and rumor has it he's already signed up one of his lawyer contributors (from Mayfair-Knollwood no less) to advise him for free.

So enough with the politics, grow up, let the investigation proceed, and let's in the meantime move on to other town business (leaves, garbage, recycling, trees, sidewalks, crosswalks, snow/ice removal, ethics, etc.) which, this being Greenburgh with Feiner at the helm, rarely seem to get the careful attention they need. ds.

full investigation said...

I agree that it would be nice for Rosenberg to take a powder. He has explained to the Town Board that an independent counsel who reports only to four council members will not be perceived as independent and he doesn’t need to say more. The rest is up to them.

It would also be nice if that bunch of people (maybe it is only one or two who write all these attack blogs) stop their personal attacks on him and on Feiner. Wouldn’t it be interesting if it turns out that the person who told the comptroller to not report the Westhelp money was a town board member, or the town attorney, or the auditor, and not Feiner. Would these attackers apologize? Don’t bet on it.

You accuse Rosenberg and Feiner of politicizing this. No. It is the town council which has politicized this by implying that Feiner has to be investigated. In fact all of them have to be investigated. It isn’t a question of whether the lawyer is impeccably credentialed. She isn’t independent if she represents the four town council members rather than the public. We know the result the town council members want and she is their lawyer. Maybe she is independent, but she doesn’t look independent to me.

Some bloggers have said that the town council should not have anything to do with selecting an independent counsel. They are right. You ought to stop fronting for the town council and understand that this investigation has to cover everyone, including them, and the way they play it will determine whether it is credible or not. I, for one, don’t have confidence. This has nothing to do with Feiner, who screws up plenty, or Rosenberg, who I think has given honest advice to the town board, whether or not you agree with it.

So I agree, enough of politics and let the investigation proceed, and let's in the meantime move on to other town business (leaves, garbage, recycling, trees, sidewalks, crosswalks, snow/ice removal, ethics, etc.). But let’s do it without attacking people who aren’t in your camp.

rosenberg meltdown said...

where in the archived report of the 12/4 meeting can we see for ourselves the alleged meltdown of mr rosenberg?

Paul Feiner said...

I want to emphasize that no money was missing from WESTHELP. All funds have been deposited in our bank account. Only funds that have been authorized to be spent by the Town Board (via resolution) have been spent.
I believe that the state law does not authorize the Town Council to hire an attorney, excluding me as a client. The Town council and I have the same interests --there is no conflict. We are all interested in making sure that financial reporting is accurate. We all support transparency in disclosure. There is nothing in the state law that warrents exclusion of me from the process. I want to be one of the clients -to be privy to the same information that other Town Council members have. I am pleased that the Town Attorney's office is reviewing the legality of whether the Town Council can approve a resolution authorizing the retention of a law firm that does not include representation of the Supervisor. Believe it's improper.
PAUL FEINER

Anonymous said...

It is clear to me that Mr. Feiner should not be part of the investigation.

where is the westchester DA

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that the usual apologists for the Town Council are concentrating on the angry exchange between Steve Bass and Herb Rosenberg, after Steve tried to distort Rosenberg's words, instead of focusing on the very sensible and constructive comments Rosenberg made about the independent counsel process.

maybe it was the butler said...

Rosenberg says he doesn't think the independent counsel will be independent enough for him. How ironic is that! Rosenberg, the self-styled pro-village advocate who chaired Feiner's SCOBA committee wouldn't let civic association presidents from the unincorporated Greenburgh be members of his committee because they weren't independent enough for him either.

It therefore seems that Rosenberg's idea of independence is only appointing someone who he has confidence will agree in advance with his own twisted view of reality. Rosenberg should take that long deserved powder, stop blogging anonymously about himself in the third person, and take a good hard look in the mirror at the ethically challenged hypocrite gazing back at him.

As for who done it, Rosenberg might want to study the reasons that the two former town comptrollers, and former town attorney, all gave for leaving town government so abruptly. Some of them were quoted in the New York Times story last year entitled, "The Problem with Greenburgh's Problem Solver."

They all also pointed in other interviews to Feiner-directed interference they were supposedly getting in doing their job by the former tax assessor, Gerry Iagallo who, until he left this past July, was Feiner's closest town hall associate. Maybe keeping the separate set of books was Iagallo's idea?

It was certainly a convenient way of keeping arguably illegal transactions off the town's official books and records. Might that be something he did and Feiner went along with?

As for the town council's role in all this, Feiner insists they all agreed. If he can prove it, Feiner would at least be able to say they're all in the soup together and just as culpable. But Feiner can point to no town board resolution or board meeting minutes where this was ever discussed, much less agreed to.

Methinks Feiner's got good reason to want to politicize an investigation that might uncover what really happened here. Methinks also that, like one hand washing the other, Rosenberg has good reason to be helping Feiner out by wrongfully discrediting the independent counsel before she's even started to work.

Stop obstructing said...

Paul, state law gives the Town Board plenty of authority to hire independent counsel and direct that she report to the four council members. Town Law 51 authorizes the Town Board make all "studies and investigations as it deems to be in the best interests of the town and, in connection therewith, to obtain and provide for compensation for professional and technical advice. . ."

Here, the Town Board, you included, voted last week that it was in the best interests of the town that it hire independent counsel and that such counsel report not to the town board as as whole, but to the four town council members.

Even if you've now changed your mind, and would have voted no, the law clearly gives the Town Board the authority to do this, with or without your cooperation, if it feels this is in the best interests of the town. As you like to point out, you're just one of five votes.

Since you say you've got nothing to hide here, no one is questioning the credentials of the lawyer being hired to do this, and you and your own counsel will have an opportunity to respond before the report becomes public, why not stop politicizing a situation that you yourself as town CFO are legally responsible for creating, and just let the chips fall where they may? You might just come out okay.

Anonymous said...

I wish everyone would stop picking on Paul Feiner. He's a great supervisor and elected official. I called him today with a problem. Within an hour my problem was solved. He tries so hard. He is accessible. Every one on my street who has called him only has good things to say about him. I'm 78 years old and I'm new to computers.

Anonymous said...

I also want to thank Paul Feiner for the delicious meals served at the Theodore Young Community Center for senior citizens. The staff are so nice.

Anonymous said...

A final comment -- George Coniglio who works at the Community Center is also doing a very nice job coming up with great programs.

Anonymous said...

I never knew, until I started reading this blog, that we had such virulent hateful people in town. Can no one state a view without there being a vicious response? is this what Bernstein has done to us?

You don't have to like Feiner in order to question the town board.

Anonymous said...

Paul, I'm reading this blog and it sure seems you're getting a lot of criticism that even some of your supporters think you deserve. But describing the criticism as "hateful", "virulent" and "vicious" sounds pretty over the top to me. And I didn't understand at all that wisecrack about Bernstein having done this to us, like I'm somehow supposed to know what that means.

Paul, it just sounds so childish and immature for your friends to be saying things like that. I'd hate to think it was you saying these things anonymously.

Anonymous said...

Dear Stop Obstructing

It is so hypocritical of Paul to complain that he was provided a copy of the resolution -- to engage an outside attorney -- 1/2 hour before the vote. How many times have we seen Paul present reolutions and demand the council vote on it that night? Like the Valhalla funding last month?

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous (9:14 pm),

The resolution to grant the funding last month to Valhalla was crafted by the Town Board without the involvement of Supervisor.

In that instance, it was the Town Board who foists a resolution on the Supervisor without his input.

Please get your facts correct, especially when you are in an attack mode.

Not so fast michael said...

The Valhalla resolution you're talking about was the town council's attempt to allow Valhalla to use money it said it had told Valhalla taxpayers it had already included in its budget for 2006-2007. In retrospect, we now know the Valhalla school officials misrepresnted the true facts and the town council shouldn't have bothered, but they did.

The resolution that was passed was negotiated all day long that day between the town attorney and the Valhalla school distrct. The supervisor stayed out of it. That night, Mr. Sheehan said he would hold the resolution over because the version he was given at the start of the meeting was not a version he had a chance to review. Feiner, however, refused to respect Mr. Sheehan's right to hold the resolution over and insisted instead that Mr. Sheehan approve the resolution that night, come hell or high water.

And so, the town council went to work in the wee hours of the morning to put the resolution together. And where was Feiner all this time? Out schmoozing with the Valhalla/Mayfair-Knollwood crowd. He made clear he could care less what the resolution said -- but as soon as he found out that Valhalla didn't like what the town council had produced, he threw a tantrum and insisted that he be allowed to exercise his own right to hold the resolution over.

The Town Council, having worked til 2 a.m. at Feiner's insistence to get the resolution done to their satisfaction, basically told Feiner at that point to take a hike, and who could blame them?

The resolution was fair to Valhalla and fair to the town because it gave the town the right to get the money back if the state comptroller says the deal is illegal. But in hindsight, given how ungrateful Valhalla was for the accommodation they were given, the town council should have stuck to its guns and just said no.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading the miscellaneous blog posts and feel it is time for everyone who blogs to grow up! Much of the commentaries are personal insults. The Town Supervisor is providing residents of Greenburgh with the opportunity to post unedited comments on HIS blog about him. He is not restricting any of us from saying what is on our minds about the town. That is good.
We should focus on issues, not personalities. People will stop reading the blog posts if they feel it's not constructive. Please think about it. Don't abuse a great tool.

What Bush would do said...

If the Town Supervisor doesn't find the unedited comments made about him on HIS blog are fair, he should stop linking HIS blog to the Town's official website and stop advertising HIS blog on the town's official e-mail service. He should instead move HIS blog to his re-election website where it belongs and where the supervisor and his campaign aides can edit the entries so that all anyone sees on HIS blog from "Greenburgh residents" is unconditional love, loyalty and devotion.

That's what President Bush's handlers did for him when he ran for re-election in 2004, and if Saddam Hussein were still in power and had a blog, I bet that's what he would do too.

If the supervisor would at least try to do his job better and, instead of personally attacking his critics all the time, if he would at least try reaching out to those to disagree and find common ground, I bet the harsh comments would change.

Samis agrees with Bernstein said...

hal samis said...
Here's a new topic and perhaps a pleasant surprise to some.

At the Town Board 2007 Budget Hearing, a surprising thing happened: I actually agreed with something Bob Bernstein said; a state of mind seldom experienced in the past two years.

On the topic of Police overtime, apparently the Town is anticipating spending around $1 million in overtime next year. This is a very large number and the quick study reaction is to see this as an example of bad management. This overtime is a situation endorsed by BOTH the Town Supervisor AND the Town Council, so lets no go down that road. And, if this becomes a hot issue maybe both entities will disavow their support of this budgeting.

What Bob said as I remember it was "that EVERYONE should have the police protection they need". He was referring to neighborhoods which have requested additional Police presence and the traditional reaction has been to fulfill these needs by paying overtime. However, it need not be supplied by overtime. Bob is suggesting that pockets of need should not be special or responses to who talks loudest before the Town Board. That the staffing needs of the Police Department should be determined by anticipating all of Greenburgh's ongoing concerns throughout the town limits and not handled as a knee-jerk reaction. So far so good.

The idea is that overtime is costly, is awarded to the officers with seniority (who have higher base pay levels, and generate even higher overtime pay compensation than those further down the list) they being the officers who get first crack at these "plum" assignments and the chance to earn extra money.

Setting aside the discussion of whether workers who work extra hours are as efficient as those who work regular shifts (examining both their performance on their shift and on their overtime shift when the two shifts are "contiguous"), there are cost considerations -- all of which I don't know, haven't seen studies or charts and don't intend to pursue being on this "watch" just as one who raises some flags for others to salute.

I'm just throwing out some points, some for and some against, to anyone interested in going further.

If the Police Department were to hire additional officers (who would need training and would not be immediately be available -- all of this hiring generating an expense without an immediate return on the investment), it could be argued that these newer officers would cost far less than using senior officers at higher pay rates and higher overtime than reversing it and awarding overtime to "newer" officers at lower pay scales, including the newest or "first in" police officer. Or eliminating the need for overtime to anyone. But if offered, the newer officers would have the opportunity to earn nearer to senior officers -- and aware that as time goes on their overtime opportunities would pass on the still newer members of the force. In other words, the senior members of the force would have to be content with higher pay grades and little likelihood of overtime -- the opposite of the existing model.

Having more officers in the ranks makes more trained individuals available as back-up in emergencies, or to cover absences or any of the other situations which may create the need for overtime.

Having more bodies in the ranks may create the need for more, costly managerial ranks.

Having more officers would also increase their equipment costs including capital items like cars.

Having more officers also raises the cost of some of the benefits such as health insurance. The Town presumably is still covering one officer, whether he accepts overtime or not; thus paying overtime to an existing cadre keeps the number of employees eligible for these benefits down.

Once passing their requirements and trial periods and becoming permanent members of the force, it would be very difficult to reduce the payroll. So, if the Police do an excellent job and eliminate crime, then, by the decision to hire more officers in lieu of awarding overtime, you may end up with that many more idle policemen with little to do. Unless, of course, they are assigned to one-on-one details at Town Board meetings.

The tradition of earning more money from overtime may already be an ingrained perk of the Department and thus something very difficult to eliminate without causing problems.

There may be Union and contractual regulations regarding this situation.

All of these situations can be projected and assigned costs and thus could be compared on a cost/benefit basis.

Thus, there may be many, many sides to a simple observation that $1 million in overtime is a big nut. But, Bob is certainly correct in observing that the Police Department should not be run year-round as special neighborhood needs determined, all neighborhoods should receive the level of Police presence as is needed and to achieve this, perhaps the Department and the Town BOARD needs to revisit the issue of overtime versus hiring additional officers.

I hope I have not misinterpreted or misquoted Mr. Bernstein. And, that the Chief doesn't arrest me tomorrow.

12/06/2006 10:04 PM

Paul Feiner said...

I do not intend to censor anyone who has anything critical to say about me on this blog. The purpose of the blog is to encourage people to participate in government. It would be nice if people would focus their attention on the substantive issues rather than beating up on others - but that's the bloggers decision to make, not mine.

civility starts with you said...

Paul - I see you want bloggers to be nicer. It would also be nice if, instead of always egging them on, you would stop your supporters from publicly attacking private citizens and community volunteers who disagree with you. It would be nice if, when that occurs and you fail to stop it, you at least take the time to publicly apologize on the town's behalf, and give these maligned individuals an opportunity to respond, if they wish. It would be nice if, instead of monopolizing the microphone, you give the other town council members are chance to speak. It would also be nice if you would stop interrupting them whenever they have something to say you don't like. It would also be nice if, to support your point of view, you didn't think it was always so important to fill up the room with a group of supporters ready to boo and jeer any speaker with an opposing point of view.

You reap what you sow.

Paul Feiner said...

Every member of the Town Board who wants to speak at Town Board meetings can speak for as long as they want to. Over the years I have always encouraged participation at Town Board meetings by citizens. Residents can express their views on issues (just like they do on the blog) and those who feel that they have been criticized unfairly are welcome to respond. I welcome the input of everyone.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Feiner - My friends and I have been watching Town Board meetings on Channel 76 for several years now. The meetings are almost always unruly and disruptive, and you're always the reason for the problem. The only one I remember that was not that way was the one that was chaired a few months ago by Eddie Mae Barnes when you were out of town. Unlike you, whe was respectful and welcoming of all points of view.

What you say you do, in terms of welcoming input from others, and what you actually do, are completely different. I don't know how those citizen activists who show up for these meetings can stand it. Try watching yourself on a tape of one of these meetings and maybe you'll be cringing along with the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Why are there open trucks rumbling through East Hartsdale Avenue? Why are there trucks rumbling through the night? Isn't this area a residential area and as such is it ETHICAL and MORAL to have rumbling trucks whip through during the day? WHY DOES IT SOUND LIKE LIVING AND BREATHING OFF A HIGHWAY OVERPASS?

I have a 6 month old who cannot sleep properly because of the horrible noise conditions. Was it MORAL AND ETHICAL to have a tree cutting and wood chipping done at 3 AM last month? OH wait we're apartment dwellers, we don't count.

There are infants, children and elderly who spend the day living in the apartments along this street. And even if they don't HEAR THE HORRIBLE NOISE, they indirectly ingest and inhale crap and garbage disposal waste nonsense that is being trucked back and forth EVERY DAY and NIGHT.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the openness of the Feiner administration. This blog is one example. Until the Board stopped Feiner, the Town Council used to hold summer meetings at area parks. Feiner maintains supermarket hours on Sunday's at the Stop N Shop in Dobbs. He encourages critics and supporters to speak at Town Board meetings. He makes every citizen feel important. He treats every complaint seriously. Isn't this what democracy is all about?

Anonymous said...

My friends also watch Town Board meetings. To anonymous who is upset at the way people treat others at the meeting, it should be noted that most of the people who are objectionable are the people who either want Feiner's job or want Feiner out of the way. They want to create chaos at the Bd meetings for political reasons. It's sad. It's true.

hal samis said...

One in a Continuing Series of Learning to Live with your Life or
How to Open Your Eyes and Ears; Take Responsibility for Your Own Decisions and Stop Complaining.

Dear anonymous @9:30,

You need to look at a road map.
The only significant East-West streets in Greenburgh are Hartsdale Avenue (100A) and Ardsley Road. These roads cross over the Bronx River Parkway and thus connect to the North-South White Plains Post Road (22), a non-highway artery.

The other significant East-West connection is Tarrytown Road (119) which ends in White Plains and even if trucks exiting the Thruway (87) or the Cross Westchester Expressway (287) were to use Central Park Avenue (100) they may still need to use Hartsdale Avenue to make local deliveries.

Would-be apartment dwellers should always be aware that because of the density of population in high rise or mid rise structures (as compared to single family homes or even "garden" apartments, having more adjacent residents is a guarantee that there will be more trucks, more service calls, more deliveries etc. AND more garbage.

How furniture gets delivered to your building, how stores get stocked, how construction equipment is transported...this is the business of trucking. And trucks are not permitted to travel on Parkways. So, get used to it.

And bloggers think I want to run for office.
Nevertheless,
tree cutting and wood chipping at 3:00 AM is a legitimate beef.

Anonymous said...

I was speaking to a tennis buddy today. He told me that the tennis courts will be restored next year. Guess who is paying for the restoration? The taxpayers! If the Town Board approves the tennis bubble it will be reconditioned at a private companies request. I cannot believe that our Town Council is willing to throw our money away by not approving this incredible arrangement. The tennis courts would be private in the winter when it is not currently used. Our courts would be exclusively for town use in the summer.

Anonymous said...

Meant to say the tennis courts will be reconditioned at the expense of the private company, not the taxpayers. I'm bad on computers.

Blame Feiner said...

There will never be a tennis bubble financed by private money as long as Feiner keeps agreeing with the villages in court that the town's tennis facilities at Veteran Park must be restricted in use at all time to unincorporated area residents. Once Feiner let that become the town's position, the tennis bubble was dead, no matter how good a deal it was for the town, its tennis players and its taxpayers. The town could have compromised on these issues, they even hired a mediator for $25,000, but because Feiner wouldn't budge, the money went to waste, and now it's up to the courts to decide (using your tax dollars by the way) whether Feiner and the villages are right.

feiner doesn't speak double talk--does the bd speak doubletalk? said...

Don't Blame Feiner said...Hey, didn't Steve Bass, Diana Juettner, Eddie Mae Barnes and Francis Sheehan vote with Feiner to appeal the lawsuit regarding the village and town tax bills?
Feiner, to his credit, tells village and unincorporated the same thing. DO the other Bd members speak double talk--saying one thing to edgemont and the opposite to dobbs ferry?

IF YOU WANT TO BE AN OBSTRUCTIONIST... said...

The tennis bubble should not be about Feiner. The concept should be approved or disapproved on its merits. I believe the tennis bubble is a good fiscally prudent idea. Why would anyone block an initiative that generates revenue for the town, an annual income stream and provides recreation opportunities to tennis players during the winter months? If my blogger colleagues want to be obstructionists can't you take on another issue?

Realist said...

I agree the tennis bubble proposal should be approved on its merits and it shouldn' be about Feiner. But the reality is that once the town bought into the villages' legal position that town parks can't be open to any residents outside of the unincorporated areas, Sporttime lost interest. The only way to get Sporttime back to the table is for the town to indemnify them should a court ever rule in favor of the town and the villages on this issue. The problem with giving the indemnity is that it might prove to be costly to town taxpayers if Sporttime invests a lot of money and then learns later that it can't let anyone outside of the unincorporated area use the courts. Far from being obstructionist, many of us have been trying in vain to get the town to find a middle ground and break the logjam on this and other issues.

Rumor has it the town attorney has said that there won't be any further discussion about any of this at all until the courts rule on all the legal issues. IMHO that's a pity.

Anonymous said...

Driving on Central Park Avenue northbound from Yonkers this afternoon, and I'm just amazed at how nasty the median strips look. Why doesn't the town have someone go out there with a weedwacker and a broom?

And who owns the land on the east side of the Central Park Avenue between Clifton Road and Ardsley Road? Someone should be mandated to clean it up immediately, or the town should do it and bill the owner.

Paul Feiner said...

Regarding Central Ave - this is a state road. I will contact the state. If you e mail me at pfeiner@greenburghny.com I will provide you with updates.

Anonymous said...

Hey hal -- That's why we're moving the hell out of this horrible town and buying elsewhere. We couldn't stay forever anyway since Greenburgh schools totally suck. We're just happy our stay was shortlived and we never bought property in this place and paid taxes into it.

BTW do you think that chopped up aspalt in open trucks hurtling down a residential street is acceptable? This isn't office furniture I'm complaining about, this is someone else's construction garbage. YOU think it's acceptable that someone else who lives in your town has to breathe in this stuff? I hope your taxes go through the roof and you continue to get bupkis for itwhen it's time to sell, because dollars for donuts that's what will happen.

And WHAT is it about the fire trucks putting their giant sirens on as they go flying down E. Hartsdale toward SCARSDALE of all places? I mean, Greenburgh's border literally ends on the other side of train tracks.

Anonymous said...

From today's Journal News

Westchester County plans to hire a consultant to cook up a menu of options the county can choose from to boost Bee-Line bus ridership, reduce congestion and speed the trip for the thousands of people who live, work or shop along Central Avenue, the county's busiest bus corridor.


Apparently everyone except Hal Samis wants to improve Central Aven

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon at 11:33

1. If this is construction debris, it is likely coming from the parking authority -- which is the ultimate in mismangement. How is the authority managing debris removal? is it at night to try to meet deadlines?

2. AS to fire trucks, it may be that they are going to the area of greenburgh up on the hill behind the apartments, which includes scarsdale golf club, a number of houses, and the office building on old colony.

hal samis said...

Anonymous @8:11,
You aren't a graduate of Edgemont Schools, are you? If so, District residents should be begging the Supervisor to increase SAT camp funding by millions.

Did you notice that the "everyone" is the County and it is concerned with the area that is under its control, the Bee Line Bus. And after the study money is spent, the conclusions will be:

To Speed Bus Service
1) widen the road to create bus lanes;
2) dedicate two (one north, one south) of the existing lanes to buses only (perhaps at limited hours), thereby creating more traffic for cars in the remaining lanes;
3) only let buses use Central Avenue;
4) rename cars "buses"
5) limit the full length routes and create "hubs" with a combination of limited stop and full local service runs. Of course changing from bus to bus will cause a lot more "wind-whipped" would-be riders (or build mini Transit centers enroute) and surprise, what works in Los Angeles climate doesn't work in the Northeast.
6) restrict bus service to the hours of 1:00 am to 5:00 am;
7) don't allow buses to make stops;
8) buses will pick-up and discharge passengers at speeds not to exceed 15 mph;
9) allow buses to go through red lights;
10) shuttle buses take NYC riders to and from train stations;
11) NASCAR supervises traffic lights and gives buses a head start at green lights;
12) NASCAR hires and runs the training program for bus drivers;
13) NASCAR condemns Central Avenue and converts it to a racing track
14) "Scotty, beam me down to Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street."

If you have other suggetions, let's hear them.

Otherwise, what you read is the kind of "feel good" but "do nothing" study that you favor because it gives the impression that your problem has been recognized and the answer is just a millennium away. Thus, in ten minutes, I have just saved the County "up to $680,000 because I don't really see that, other than pulling the wool over sharped-eyed 8:11 who couldn't wait to bring his newswatch gleaning to the attention of bloggers, a bus which makes stops for passengers can't help but lose ground to passing cars which do not.


The riders that Ms Halbfinger typically rounds up for quotes always say, duh, "we need more buses, we need faster service, and lower fares..." Given that things can be changed, for better or worse, the impediment always comes back to the cost. In the meanwhile, just like in Greenburgh, more money finds its way to line the willing pockets of "consultants".

The only missing ingredient in today's story is that no one has asked for a moratorium on bus service until the "problem" gets fixed. Riders will have to move to Edgemont (or at least use those bus stops) to come up with his clever idea.

hal samis said...

11:33,

Stupid knows no bounds as residents (even temporary ones) continue to show the downside from a poor education. Even if they were "larned elsewheres".

On behalf of the new tenant who will be moving into your old apartment, I want to say thanks for leaving your furniture and personal effects behind because you are very concerned about the price society has to pay for deliveries. As you flee into the night, watch out for the active wood chippers.

When you do put down your big investment bucks into a permanent home, I hope that you haven't moved near your new municipality's borders because I would hate to think that fire trucks were afraid to venture out for fear of annoying residents who are siren-phobic.

As you are a contributor to the "Dollars for Doughnuts" program,
I want to bring to your attention the after Christmas sale on doughnut holes and other half-baked thoughts.

"And WHAT is it about" belongs exclusively to Jerry Seinfeld who never lived on East Hartsdale Avenue.

Have a wonderful life in your new zip code. Even if you're not physically here, you can always leave your legacy behind and live on in our hearts through this blog. There will always be another stupid comment from someone named anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Let me preface this thread by saying I'm not looking for glory or attention, it's just something that irks and frusterates me. This is kind of a follow up to my housing post.

In this town, the Town Supervisor has an email list and blog. Using this, he often lauds the accomplishments of the Police Department, the highway department, and mostly every town agency, including the volunteer FD's that are located in the incorporated villages...that have their own mayors and village councils. He often immediatetly sends out these emails.
Now, in the UNincorporated town of Greenburgh, there are 3 fire districts, all combinations. Hartsdale, Greenville, and Fairview.

Recently, 4 Ardsley volunteer firefighters assisted a family out of a car from some water on the Saw Mill River Parkway on Thanksgiving Day. The Supervisor reacted to this immmediately by sending out an email about their "heroics" and volunteer firefighters are always there regardless, by honoring these 4 firefighters as Citizens Of The Month, saying that the town should subsidize housing for all volunteer firefighters, and that we need to keep the volunteers around to prevent going career.

The other day, my union, Greenburgh Uniformed Firefighters Local 1586, attended the grand opening of the Childrens Hospital "Mini Firehouse" Local 1586 was one of many orginizations and people involved in getting this room done for the children.

This event was ignored by The Journal News as well.

I feel if the town supervisor, in his position, is going to give all this positive attention to the afformentioned departments in the town, then he should be fair and equal and give the career firefighters the same reconition as he does everyone else. This was a great thing that the town firefighters helped to accomplish, and the Town again forgets it's 3 fire districts in the UNincorporated town...which is what Mr. Feiner should be primarily concerned with.

I feel that it's important that the Fire Department gets consistent good publicity, and if the town supervisor is going to use his role and resources to brag about all the wonderful things that the different town departments and orginizations are doing, that the firefighters should not be left out.

BTW, I wrote a letter to Mr. Feiner about this, I got a read receipt but no reply.

Paul Feiner said...

Dear X635: If you or someone from the children's hospital (or union) would provide me with the names of the firefighters involved in helping the children's hospital I would be happy to honor each of the volunteers at the first Town Board meeting in January.

Anonymous said...

The Town Board needs to work with each other. They should stop the fighting.

supervisor is dupervisor said...

In sunday's times we read about an albeit suspect plan to use tax money to foster religion in prison. However, every grant under this program of $500,000 requires the receipient to pay for a private auditor to monitor the use fo the funds.feiner's westhelp scheme, which gave away millions to the valhalla school district, had no auditing provisions. the supervisor deceives us when he says all westhelp money has been fully accounted for (as he did at most recently at the 12/4 town board meeting). as other bloggers have observed, feiner's failure to have an auditing provision shows how incompetent he is. but what can you expect from feiner,he takes campaign money from the town's auditors!

hal samis said...

This morning the Town Council sent out a self-congratulatory email which announced the hiring of an additional police officer. This was an attempt to reduce the $1 million in costly overtime that had previously been committed.

So what's the problem?

What the email omits is that the Town Council had previously added $45,000 to the overtime allocation and today's response is only the result of their delayed waking up to the problem which was brought to the attention of the Town Board by a number of citizens speaking at the budget hearing last Monday night.

This is what Public Hearings are about and it is a good thing that the Town Board was listening. It would have even been a better thing had they acknowledged the source of their "accomplishment" announcement as their previous handling of the matter was to go in the opposite direction.

What the Town Council needs to do is remember, before they rush to crow about their deeds, is that not everyone is sleeping and that no good deed remains unpunished if it is merely reactive versus proactive.
Perhaps, the Town Council needs to include Mr. Bernstein et al for pointing them in the right direction.

Also mentioned in the press release was the information that the additional officer would not raise taxes. Well, we start with presumably rescinding their allocation of the extra $45,000 from their own version of the budget and hopefully the news of vague reductions elsewhere will turn out to be at least $250,000 of savings from the Library gifting (AFTER removing the $300,000 for the Library's share of DPW maintenance on the non-existing building in 2007...you know just to keep things accurate).

Purposely robbing the taxpayers to fund ficticious or overstated entries (like non-existing positions) in the Library operating budget so that there will be a surplus is a veiled attempt to provide funding for the expansion project so that it will appear to be on target. In 2007, the Library Fund (a taxpayer funded savings account exclusively for the Library -- remove the money from the taxpayers' pockets today) will benefit from a balance of at least $340,000 which can be spent as determined solely by the Library.
This could be used for things like furniture and office equipment and thus not have to be funded out of the referendum bond proceeds.

And, making the Library expansion expense to appear within the budget cap is a priority for the Town Council which has made this issue one of their "fronts" in their continuing war with the Supervisor.
This is proving to be a difficult task as the Public gets more aware of how much less of a Library is actually to be delivered in the name of staying within budget.

While where to do geothermal drilling, if at all, is still unresolved by NYDEP, something that everyone is very anxious to say is no problem despite it being an unresolved problem for nine months of effort.

Not unlike, the "no problem" problem across the street (Knollwood) of locating a sidewalk for the proposed Health Center.

Anonymous said...

The Town Board meeting was real interesting this Wednesday. Seems like Steve and Francis are trying to distance themselves from each other. Was Steve's comments about Avalon an indirect attack on Francis's position? Was Francis's annoyance at Steve for holding over the budget a signal that they are not getting along? Can't wait till 2007. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why anyone is shocked that Westhelp money went to a private foundation. The grant from the Town of Greenburgh provides that under spent money up to 15% for each project will go to the Valhalla Schools Foundation. Sure it's illegal. Mr Feiner signed an agreement that provides for illegal payments to be made with Town money. You can find the agreement and the sublease on Valhallavoice.com. What I want to know is how many grants did Valhalla receive? The School district seems to acknowlege three, but Greenburgh has received five lease payments. This question has been floating around for weeks, unanswered, on the Greenburgh and Valhalla blogs.

Anonymous said...

To immediately previous poster - for heavens sake - spend your time and energy trying to figure out how to get this money legally to the Valhalla school district and Mayfair Knollwood, instead of turning over every rock looking for something evil - unless you are willing to have a 149 person homeless shelter in your back yard and a containment facility for pedophiles within short walking distance of your home and local school.

"No good deed goes unpunished" is all I can think of when I read your and other suspicious rantings.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Feiner signed an agreement that Mr. Bass, Mrs. Juettner, Ms. Barnes voted for. For goodness sake, all 4 of the Town Board members who voted for the Westhelp agreement have an obligation to figure out a way to honor their commitment to the community.

Anonymous said...

It would take a pretty big rock to hide $1.3 million (two years missing payments). However Valhalla does not account for its Westhelp money to its benefactors or anyone for that matter. No, I would look more for hiding it in plain site. If Greenburgh, a Town where there is far more oversight and control could hide $500,000 off the books. Valhalla or any school district could hide $1.3 million. Remember Valhalla's Westhelp expenditures are not reported in Valhalla's Budget. Maybe they will suddenly have $1.3 million to reduce taxes.

Anonymous said...

Did you hear that TIME Magazine named YOU as people of the year. This blog represents what is happening around the nation and the world: YOU and I are being empowered. This blog provides YOU and I with an opportunity to be part of our government. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Unreported balances, off budget expenses, unexplained income, illegal payments? It is certainly not in the interest of the Town that the board figure out a way to honor a commitment made under illegal and false pretenses. If Valhalla wants to continue these programs, let them do it the old fashion way, increase taxes.

Anonymous said...

To 12/17 - 1:53pm - Are you from the planet Mars - an uninformed alien in our midst? You say "if Valhalla wants to commit to these programs let them increase taxes."
Please tell me which School Districts in Greenburgh want to take in the children from a homeless shelter, that by law, pays no school taxes, and which City, Town or Village in the USA is really happy to pay for the extra police protection required when a pedophile incarcaration facility where the inmates are able to go out, is opened in close to their homes, without remuneration from the higher gov't level that imposes it - in this case Westchester County.
The Greenburgh Supervisor and Town Council did the right thing in returning to the affected School District and Police Dept. a sum of money paid to Greenburgh by the County as rental fees for the shelter, (NOT Greenburgh tax payers money) to schools and police force, to balance out this burden placed on them.
I assure you that Supervisor Feiner, Mr. Sheehan, Mr. Bass, Ms Juettner and Ms. Barnes have all the money recorded legimately, (not in anyone's personal pockets) and have only done the decent thing - what you would want done, if it happened where you or I lived.
They have hired a lawyer to prove this to you and if you live in Greenburgh you will pay part of the $20,000 lawyers fee that will investigate exactly where the money went and was recorded.
God, what money does to people if they think someone else is getting an extra nickel. After previously mentioned expenses and possible devaluation of their home's values, how can people of good conscience deny this money to the affected area? How can any other area claim they deserve a part of the pie without being ashamed of themselves?
One last thing - as a Town, State and nation we are only as strong as our weakest link. The homeless need our help. If we ignore their situation, we are undercutting much of our strength. Creative solutions are to be applauded. All members of our Town Board should be proud of their efforts.

Anonymous said...

What a disengenous statement -- yes the shelter does not pay tzes, but the state provides payments, substantial payments in leiu of taxes to cover the education costs. 20K per year for an average child, more for special needs.

and if anyone knows where the monies went, put up a list.

Anonymous said...

It's one thing to take on a homeless shelter in your town and take monies to put towards police protection and other security related costs. It's another to use the money to fund SAT prep courses, cruises and trips to the Grand Canyon. I don't think anyone would object to Valhalla using the funds from WestHELP to provide an increased police presense. It's when it's used for slush that you have to question the agreement and who is really being served by it.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if the money were accounted for by the Town and the school district, it would be less of an issue. It would also help if those moonlight cruises, Manhattan lunches and Harvard camps never happened, but they did. How can you blame people for being suspicious? We were told it was all being spent on the kids; we were told that nothing went to a private foundation. Both were untrue. Now it seems two years are somehow missing. It doesn't matter if no one put money in their pocket; the town and school must render an accounting for the money and that means all the money. It is time for governments to come clean. Why wait until the Comptroller reports? It will only look worse if we do and this town has taken a series of hits for a deal that seems now indefensible.

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous: Do you remember the movie trading places. Your neighborhood should trade places with Mayfair Knollwood. I'm sure that if a large homeless shelter(s) were placed in your backyard you'd support the WESTHELP partnership. The Town Council did the right thing when they unanimously approved the contract. Hope they do what they told us they would do when they authorized the implementation of the contract.

Anonymous said...

So you are not in favor of a full accounting?

Anonymous said...

From the Valhalla Voice

"Take a look at the Valhalla School District revenues from 03-04 through 06-07 and you will find a very curious increase in interest income, which averages $70,000 for three prior years suddenly jumps to $220,000 in 06-07. That is an incredible jump of almost 200%. Certainly the budget could not generate that much interest. Rates in general are not up appreciably and the district is not investing in the Cayman Islands, so where did come from? They are floating "rising interest rates" as the reason for a 200% increase in interest. Let's put that into perspective interest rates have not risen 200% and at current rates the district would need an extra $3.5 million to invest for the entire year to get that return. With a fund balance capped at $700,000 there is no way they could project $220,000 in interest unless they already had it and had not reported it from prior years. You can see that suddenly in 2006, the district stopped presenting comparative years, so it was impossible to detect this unexplained interest increase. Could this have something to do with the magical $1.3 million that our chearleader CPA was "so excited" about at the last board meeting? The magical $1.3 million that does not appear in the district's revenue projection for the 06-07 budget, but which he says has been used to reduce taxes. Would it be too much to ask the district to put the Auditors report on their website and maybe look for a more professional and less excited CPA firm."

Anonymous said...

Wow!!!

Until now we have been concentrating on whether the annual $650,000 grant to the Valhalla School District is legal. Now, based on what Valhalla Voice is reporting, we should concentrate on whether the Valhalla School District has been using the money as required by the grant conditions, and whether they have been reportingn it correctly and legally.

It seems that Greenburgh is not the only one that has nor been following proper accounting requirements.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why Paul Feiner needs a pro bono lawyer to represent him personally in the Westhelp matter? This from www.chasecaro.com "Pro Bono Publico: ...... Representation of Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner in maintaining Westhelp Center housing and job training for homeless mothers."

Rumor Has It said...

That even though he had no town board authorization to do so, and even though he publicly said at the last televised town board meeting that, as part of a deal he reached with the town council, he would not retain his own lawyer, Feiner unilaterally directed this "pro bono lawyer" of his -- who actually lives in the Mayfair-Knollwood section of town -- to notify the state comptroller's office, on the Town's behalf no less, that the Town wanted more time to respond to the state comptroller's so far highly confidential draft audit of the WestHelp debacle.

Sounds like Feiner is so desperate to keep that draft from being final and released to the public, that he'll do anything to stop it, including having his "personal" lawyer pretend he represents the town to ask for more time.

When public officials are so desperate that they have to act in this sleazy underhanded manner, there's usually something huge they're trying to hide.

Anonymous said...

I would like an investigation of the attorney involved -- if he/she made representations that the town wanted a delay, versus Feiner wanting a delay, this is most serious.

Even a "pro-bono" attorney knows, or should know, whose his clients are -- I think the ABA/NYS should know if an attorney is making a false represeantioatn.

Anonymous said...

Why shouldn't Feiner have his own counsel, pro-bono or otherwise? The Town Council hired a Wall Street firm to represent the Town Council, not the Town Board. In other words, they excluded Feiner, and that clearly sent a message that they were out to pin this on him, even though they knew everything that he knew because they were told about the West Help money situation more than a year ago. Their show of surprise and innocense is a sham. If they didn't have an unpopular target they wouldn't get away with it. I think that Feiner needs a lawyer to protect him from the Town Council, especially since Feiner doesn't have the wits and cool to defend himself from his foot-in-the-mouth habit.

Feiner in Trouble said...

Feiner is not entitled to his own counsel on WestHelp matters (at least not yet) and he is certainly not entitled to direct that such counsel speak on behalf of the town when dealing with the state comptroller's office.

That he evidently did so should set off alarm bells to everyone in Greenburgh.

This is certainly NOT a situation of tit-for-tat with the Town Council. Far from it. The Town Council made a point of hiring independent counsel on behalf of the entire Town Board, not just the four councilmembers, after Feiner claimed to have done hundreds of hours of legal research to prove that the Town Council didn't have the authority to hire independent counsel reportable only to them.

The Town Council's point from the beginning was that because Feiner was the town's chief financial officer, it would be improper, unseemly and a disservice to the community for Feiner himself to have a role in controlling what the independent counsel does and does not investigate.

But Feiner insisted that he not be excluded and the Town Council agreed - on condition that, among other things, the independent counsel have a free hand to do what she feels is appropriate, and that Feiner not continue to retain his own counsel.

Feiner is not entitled to his own counsel, pro bono or otherwise, unless, like Hevesi,he is the target of a civil or criminal investigation into wrongdoing on his part, in which case he course should be entitled to counsel. At his own expense.

Anonymous said...

By the way, the idea that Feiner's supposed lawyer called the Comptroller's office comes from a blog called "rumor has it.." Maybe people should wait for facts rather than rumors.

It is worrysome to fair-minded residents like me to see vicious attacks on Feiner just for the sake of making vicious attacks. I have many quarrels with Feiner but he is entitled to fair play. Maybe the rumor is just a rumor. Maybe he is entitled to ask for a delay if the rumor is true. But that is not the way some residents operate. Maybe one plants a rumor and then the others come in with their denunciations. There must be better things to do, like checking facts.

Yet another truthteller said...

Paul reads this blog religiously. The report about him directing his personal "counsel" from Mayfair Knollwood to call the state comptroller's office to request more time is true. If it weren't, he'd be the first to say so.

Paul cannot deny it because way too many people in town and in Albany now know that he did this - and they're not very happy about it.

One of these days Paul may learn that it's not in his best interest, or in the best interests of the town he purportedly serves, to play fast and loose with state officials looking into matters that ultimately bear on his own misconduct.

Anonymous said...

Defintely agree that Feiner needs protection from the "angelic four" of the Town Council. These four are out to get the man whom the electorate chose for Supervisor, out of office as fast as possible, which makes the televised meetings so embarassing to watch and such a sham.

Even if I didn't like Feiner I would have sympathy for him because of their arrogance and rudeness. The bloggers who have risen to new levels of visiousness can't stand the fact that their choice for Supervisor LOST.

Anonymous said...

Once the state comptroller's report gets released, Feiner may need protection -- but it won't be from town council members.

No, he'll probably need protection from angry voters in both unincorporated Greenburgh and the villages who together may conclude that Feiner, like Hevesi, has abused the public trust.

In Feiner's case, he did it by illegally and irresponsibly giving away millions of dollars in town money from WestHelp to the Valhalla School District, and then cooking the town's books to hide what he had done.

However, none of this will have any bearing on whether Feiner gets to keep his job unless and until the unincorporated areas and the villages can get together on a strong Democrat with no-nonsense credentials who can beat him.

Feiner was nearly defeated the last time, and if voters are still angry come primary time 2007, he'll be easily defeated this time.

Anonymous said...

Your comments against Feiner are rotten,like eggs. I really am offended at the tone of these comments. I get bad vibes from this and am embarrassed.

Anonymous said...

Get a grip, it's a blog for heavens sake. If Paul Feiner thinks he needs an attorney after seeing the Comptroller's report he should get one. I just hope those people in the Valhalla school district don't sail away with $1.8 million or is it $3.2 million of our money. I hope the town is willing to enforce the indemnity clause.

Anonymous said...

If Feiner needs an attorney after seeing the comptroller's report, then the entire Toan Board needs an attorney. Bass, Juettner and Barnes all voted for the deal, and we now know that all of them,. including Sheehan, knew last year about the money that wasn't paid to the local civic associations, and none of them said a word about it or did anything. I hope that they can get a pro bono attorney when they will need it.

On the other hand, the reason Feiner got a private attorney was because the other four - the angelic four as another blogger called them - hired a law firm and excluded Feiner, which made it clear that they were trying to hide their role and blame Feiner for everything. Pardon me for not having much confidence in the Town Copuncil's good faith, or in the law firm they hired.

If they made service to the town their priority, instead of backbiting and politicking half of each meeting, we's be better off. I say get rid of them all. Call your Democratic Party officials and tell them that we need new people, people who try to get along with each other and the whole town.

Anonymous said...

There are Town Council members who want Feiner's job. They'll do anything to undercut Feiner. They are not putting the interests of the town first. It's disgraceful. Shame on you Sheehan,Barnes,Juettner, Bass. You were elected to solve problems, not create them.

Anonymous said...

As I read through this blog there is something mentioned constantly that is misleading, and must stop. With regards to the Westhelp situation, it is constantly being said “how would you like a homeless shelter in your back yard”? For all those reading who didn’t know, Westhelp’s lease was up. There didn’t need to be a homeless shelter there anymore!
I believe I read something in the local paper discussing how the homeless shelter did not have a negative impact on the community during it’s first lease. The Mayfair Knollwood people knew this. They put their greedy little heads together and said hey let’s exaggerate the negative effects of the homeless shelter and belly ache to Feiner about it so we can extort some money for ourselves. Remember, the Westhelp money to Valhalla doesn’t pay for any normally budgeted items, just things like opera tickets and cruises on the Hudson for adults.
The bottom line is that the lease did not have to be renewed and the homeless shelter did not have to be where it is.

Anonymous said...

Imagine yourself in a real estate broker's office. He/she tells you about a nice house in the Valhalla School District. You're intrigued. It seems from the pictures you've seen on the internet, and what you've been told by broker, that it is just what you've been looking for. and at the right price. BUT you've heard that there's a pedophile prison nearby. And a 150 bed homeless shelter in the area. So you say, "I'll pass on this one" - show us some other place without these disadvantage(especially if you think you might have to move in a few years and resell).

Now suppose the broker tells you about some of the great programs that the Valhalla School District has in place - like great trips and enrichment programs for students - which your kids can take advantage of if you as parent pay part of the cost. It's not a free ride, but worth it, you think for your kids and your hopes for his or her future.

You think, "maybe I can deal with the prison and the shelter if there is good policing and good school programs, for my kids".

Fast forward to the Town Council of Greenburgh which saw all this, and recognized that the rental money from the shelter that Westchester County paid to Greenburgh Town, could go to the school district and policing and accomplish the above mentioned good things. A contract is made by the Town with Westhelp.

But NOW all deals are off. The Council and some people who I won't be able to understand until I die, want to get rid of Supervisor, but not the Town Council. Instead of lobbying our New York State legislature to make this a model program for the State, the Council and its supporters are saying, 'let's get the supervisor for some kind of fraud' but not us the Council, even though we saw the merit of the plan and voted for it.

Anonymous said...

What a bizarre scenario; potential home buyers choosing Valhalla because in 10 years their kid can go to Harvard camp or the grand canyon, or the parents can take a booze cruise down the Hudson. The prison's been there forever. The Westhelp faciity for 15 years. Potential homebuyers should be much more interested in the actual results of the school district and whether they are getting value for their money. "Now all deals are off"? It sounds like you have seen the Comptroller's report. Maybe you can also answer the question - How much money did the Valhalla School District receive from the Westhelp sublease? Was it five payments of $650,000 or three?

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine a real estate broker hawking the benefits of the Westhelp partnership as a reason to over look a "pedophile prison" or a homeless shelter. They will make the same commission on whatever house you buy and in whatever school district. As an outsider, it looks like the Valhalla school district has bigger problems than losing $650,000 in off budget programs.

Anonymous said...

It is not up to the Town of Greenburgh to prop up the Valhalla School District with our money. Valhalla should get it's own act together.

Anonymous said...

The library construction still has not started.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when the library construction will actually start? I thought the Town Board approved bids. What's going on? The Hartsdale fire district had a referendum on their expansion around the same time as the library referendum. Construction on the fire house started months ago. The library hasn't even broken ground.

Anonymous said...

Why do any Greenburgh kids go to Valhalla schools in the first place? Someone needs to fix the old-fashioned school district lines. Students in unincorporated Greenburgh should go to Edgemont schools or Greenburgh schools - period.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous, who says that kids in unincorporated Greenburgh should go to Edgemont schools or Greenburgh schools.

Now you will hear it. You will find out that Edgemont people not only are prejudiced against residents of the villages, but also against residents who don’t live in or near Edgemont. You can’t lose a bet if you bet that the loud voices from Edgemont will yell like hell if there is any movement towards bringing in kids who don’t live in the current Edgemont school district.

Anonymous said...

There is no need for Edgemont to scream --

the lines for school districts are drawn/approved by state

and the thought of the valhalla people wanting to jump over G7 to get to Edgemont is about as much a fairy tale as Jack jumping over the candle stick

Anonymous said...

There is no need for Edgemont to scream --

the lines for school districts are drawn/approved by state

and the thought of the valhalla people wanting to jump over G7 to get to Edgemont is about as much a fairy tale as Jack jumping over the candle stick

Anonymous said...

Curious about Greenburgh Central 7 School District ... Did there used to be a Greenburgh Central 6, Greenburgh Central 5, Greenburgh Central 4, etc?

Even if so, why would they still call themselves Central 7?

Anonymous said...

Greenburgh 6 is edgemont -- I dont know which is which but the others are ardesely, etc.

Anonymous said...

why does the parking authority not publish a real agenda, like the zoning or planning boards?

Who are they accountable to?

Anonymous said...

and why are announcements of library trustee/board meetings not even on town website, with agenda

Anonymous said...

the satellite library locations are a joke! We need a real library for the next two years.

Anonymous said...

Great news! I'm looking forward to the Ridge Hill development. It'll be so beneficial for Yonkers, and indirectly to Greenburgh, too.

"YONKERS - City officials announced the settlement yesterday in a lawsuit filed against the city by Greenburgh and other communities over the Ridge Hill development complex."

http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061229/NEWS02/612290359/1018/NEWS02

Anonymous said...

What benefits -- give me a break.

This will gut Central Avenue. Once again, thanks for nothing, Feiner.

hal samis said...

Dear Gutted:

All this concern about Central Avenue...if it were shared by others, then you concerned folks would not be rushing to shop at Ridge Hill in about three to four years.

And, "on that great come and get it day" when it opens, you should be happy to see the long sought absence of traffic jams on Central Avenue as everyone else, excepting you and your two friends, will be shopping at Ridge Hill fulfilling your worst fears.

Finally, that the Town of Greenburgh has wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on behalf of you and a few other voters, is nothing to toss out so quickly. Feiner and the Town Council bowed to you and your complaints and soothsayings. The Town fought the good fight to stop an unstoppable event while enriching the "usual supsects" of consultants enroute. Perhaps the argument IS that it is a responsive government's job to try and appease ALL of its citizens' needs and concerns. THEY listened to you and your concerns, the money was spent, the meetings were held, the legal motions were filed -- all to naught. And having done this, you the ungrateful anonymoaner still finds fault with ONLY Feiner; this time for what happens in the bailiwick of Yonkers. And next up is the similar effort to lobby the State, the County and the FEDs re the Tappan Zee Bridge. Reading these blogs, in toto, has convinced me that anonymous is just a synomyn for stupid.

And lest you conclude that this was a defense of Feiner, let me make it perfectly clearly that I have always been 125% AGAINST spending a nickel of taxpayer money to stop Ridge Hill. If Ridge Hill is going to be such a fantastic place to shop and thus draw customers away from the merchants on Central Avenue, then let me be among the first to spend my dollars there. And I'll be sure to plan my route so that it goes exclusively through LOCAL streets. In the meantime, keep up the good work on publicizing why everyone would want to shop at Ridge Hill.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that once the library starts construction that almost all the books will be placed in storage for 2 years? The library budget in 2007 is almost hte same as it was in 2006. However, the services are declining.

Anonymous said...

The Town Board and Supervisor should insist on monthly use reports from the library once it opens up its satellite services. Town taxpayers are paying for a full service library when most of the books are in storage. The satellite locations are very small and won't be used by most residents.

Anonymous said...

True about the satellite locations. Who knows what little will be available. They'll be utilized infrequently. Even now, I almost exclusively use Scarsdale and Yonkers anyway. And with Elmsford now part of Ardsley, I don't think anyone will really miss the GPL much during the construction phase.

Anonymous said...

I want to wish everyone a very happy 2007 and I hope that some bloggers who have only one objective - to destroy Paul Feiner -will come to their senses. We, in Greenburgh, are very lucky to have someone as dedicated, caring and terrific as Paul. I don't think there is anyone who can fill his shoes.

Anonymous said...

From the Town Website -- my question -- is this being charged to the town entire budget.

The Town of Greenburgh Department of Parks and Recreation would like to announce the return of our Mad Science program. Mad Science provides educational and entertaining activities to spark your child’s imagination and curiosity about science. The program engages children in hands-on activities and experiments to instill a clearer understanding of what science is really about and how it affects the world around them. The program serves boys and girls from kindergarten to 3rd grade. The instruction is provided by the professionals from Mad Science of Westchester

Anonymous said...

During the construction period, I think the library staff should be working on getting a really great Elibrary up and running. I like White Plains, but there are others. Lack of a physical library is not a constrint.

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